Marquez talks pole, shaking, strain and chain

Marc Marquez to challenge for seventh COTA victory from pole position.
Marquez talks pole, shaking, strain and chain

Marc Marquez remains on course to extend his perfect Austin MotoGP victory record to seven in a row, after claiming a seventh successive pole position at COTA on Saturday.

With FP3 abandoned due to lightning, the reigning world champion shot to the top by several seconds when he was typically the first rider to try slicks in the drying FP4 session.

"Today was a strange day and in FP4 I went out with the rain tyres but immediately I saw that the conditions were right for slicks, but my team were stopping me a little bit because there was no meaning to take the risk," Marquez said. "Immediately I felt really good on the racetrack, the lines, the grip."

However his advantage had been cut to 0.273s, over Valentino Rossi, by the conclusion of qualifying.

"In qualifying I felt good on the first tyre, then on the second I did too many mistakes. I went wide. But even like this the lap was not so bad, '3.8," Marquez said. "Tomorrow will be important to work hard in the warm-up because we have a few problems that we will try to fix to have a constant race pace."

Despite his Saturday timesheet dominance, repeated tank-slappers along the bumpy 1.2km back straight illustrated it was far from easy for the Repsol Honda rider.

"Absorbing the bumps is one of our weak points and we are trying to analyse why," Marquez said. "But the set-up that we had on the bike and especially the electronics is to ride without the wind and today was really windy and then there was still some water there on the straight.

"It was shaking a lot, but I believe that in the race tomorrow there will be less wind, so today in that part even on the fastest lap I couldn’t be full [throttle] I was just closing a little bit to be safe.

"With the second tyre I tried to be full [throttle] but it was shaking too much. So we need to analyse. If it's windy tomorrow we will change the set-up. If not we'll keep going with this one."

Such shakes and the general physical nature of the long Texan circuit are also putting a strain on his healing shoulder, following December's surgery.

"I would lie if I say no," confirmed Marquez. "I'm very happy that I arrive in a good level with my shoulder but of course in this racetrack I feel. Especially the shaking.

"The change of direction is not so bad, the power is there, but with the shaking I feel a little bit. For Argentina I forgot completely [about the shoulder] but here I come back with the ice, the physio.

"But luckily for me we didn’t ride n FP3 and FP4 was easy, so physical condition will be fit for tomorrow."

In terms of his likely race rivals, Marquez named the factory Yamahas of Rossi and Maverick Vinales (sixth), but the effective loss of two practice sessions means there are plenty of unknowns.

"Now I cannot tell you [my plan] because nobody knows the race pace of the others. On Friday my race pace was a little faster than both Yamahas, but both Yamahas are riding int a very good way, the race is very long, 20 laps, physical condition is important and let's see if we can improve.

"Front tyre I think everybody will more-or-less race with the same, but the rear tyre, I did FP2 with the hard rear and felt good. FP1 with the medium. With the soft also has very good potential for initial grip. But we need to understand in the warm-up and let's see if it's better with the medium or hard, I believe."

Marquez also explained why he didn't use the new Ducati-style swingarm device again on Saturday. The part has been cleared for use by Honda on the grounds of stiffness, although Marquez previously said the main difference is downforce.

"Yesterday we tried a new device for the 'stiffness' of the swingarm," he smiled. "But we didn't use because it's a strange weekend, strange conditions, so we just prefer to ride with what we know and we will have more opportunities in the future."

During practice in Argentina Marquez suffered what seemed a freak incident when his chain jumped off the sprocket. Then the same thing happened to team-mate Jorge Lorenzo on Saturday at COTA.

Is it worry for the race?

"There is some problem there that they are trying to analyse and they are working on it. But of course it's a risk, but they are trying to fix."

"Honda are Honda. HRC I'm sure will investigate thoroughly and see what happened and try to fix it the same as any other manufacturer or team would," added LCR's Cal Crutchlow, who will join Marquez and Rossi on Sunday's front row.