Marquez: Physical track, physical bike, but pace good

Worst qualifying of the season, but MotoGP champion Marc Marquez confident he can be close to Yamaha and Suzuki in Assen race.
Marquez: Physical track, physical bike, but pace good

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez admits the physical nature of the 2019 Honda is taking its toll around the high-speed twists of the Assen circuit.

But despite his worst qualifying of the season, the title leader feels he is closer on race pace to the leading Yamaha and Suzuki riders, who have locked out the front row.

"If you look at qualifying I'm 0.6-0.7 behind Quartararo and Vinales, who did amazing laps. But we are closer [on race pace]. They have a little bit more, but we are not very far," he said after qualifying fourth on the grid.

"Qualifying is not the same as riding with a full tank in the race and in qualifying for example I didn't feel ready to attack at 100%."

The dangers of getting it wrong at Assen had been underlined by a vertebrae fractures for team-mate Jorge Lorenzo on Friday, ruling him out of both Assen and next weekend's Sachsenring event.

"At this track if you don't feel ready to attack, you need to be careful. Because if you crash here normally the speed is very high and we have two races in a row," said Marquez, who nonetheless made a big front-end save at turn one.

The Spaniard spent the closing stages of qualifying behind title rival Andrea Dovizioso, just as happened at Mugello, but insisted it was not planned on this occasion and he was ultimately held up by the Italian.

"In the second run I waited for everyone to go, but then when I went out Dovi was there," said Marquez. "Honestly this time I didn't try to find him. But then I checked the positions [on the screen] and Dovi was very far [from the top].

"So I said 'ok, he's the second guy in the championship, so I will not push'. I prefer to slow down and forget the lap time. Then I tried to do a good lap time once he was far [ahead], but he was riding slow and I caught him very early.

"Maybe Vinales did a good strategy because he was alone both runs. But even with a better strategy, the best position today after checking the lap times would have been third."

Marquez noted that the Hondas and Ducatis have been usurped by more nimbler machines this weekend, saying the Yamaha is the 'best bike' at the Dutch track, but is nonetheless confident he can manhandle the RC213V over a race distance.

"This is one of the most physical tracks, but even more so I think with our bike and also Ducati," he said.

"For some reason the characteristics of the bikes, we are not struggling but you can see on the change of direction the Yamaha and Suzuki are changing faster. I don't believe it's because they put more effort, because all riders put their 100% effort.

"But this circuit is a physical track and we have a physical bike, but anyway I feel ready to be at 100% in the race. It's true that I need to manage, I need to take a rest today, but I did some laps in a row this afternoon and I felt good, the pace was good and this is the most important."

Marquez currently holds a 37-point title lead over Dovizioso, who could only qualify eleventh.