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Two falls for Márquez: “Feeling has changed a lot”

For the first time since the 2021 Emilia-Rogmana Grand Prix, Marc Marquez returned to his MotoGP Honda this Saturday in Sepang. This is a completely new bike for the 2022 season, which the regular riders are getting to know for the first time at the winter test in Malaysia.

“It’s true that it’s a different bike,” says Márquez after 62 laps on the RC213V. He finished the first of two test days in eighth place with a personal best of 1:59.287 minutes. His gap to the best time of the day: 0.916 seconds.

“Today I also had last year’s bike to test and I immediately understood that the speed or the lap is easier to achieve with the new bike,” the Spaniard draws a direct comparison to last year’s model. “But that created another problem. What I have to learn and understand is the feeling for the front. That has changed a lot.”

Márquez falls twice on the first day of testing

That’s why Márquez’s first day of testing didn’t go entirely smoothly. The 28-year-old crashed twice: once in the first hour in turn 9, then in the last half hour in turn 15. Both times it was a harmless slip and he escaped uninjured.

“One mistake was completely mine,” explains Márquez. “And once I fell and I still don’t quite understand why because I didn’t do anything weird.”

“All these things and the long time that I haven’t ridden the Grand Prix bike has meant that I still don’t quite understand how to ride this bike. The lap time came, but I don’t know, why,” he continues.

Driving style at corner entry causes problems

But one thing is clear to Márquez: he has to adapt his driving style, especially when entering corners. Because pushing the front end like he did in the past no longer works: “At the moment, with this new motorcycle, I have to make compromises at this point. When I tried to do that today, I crashed.”

Asked about the traction on the rear wheel, which many Honda riders complained about last season, the Spaniard sees limited progress. “Today we tried two different setups with the same bike: one had this problem, the other didn’t. But with one set-up I won in some points, with the other not,” he says.

It just takes more laps here to understand which set-up is the right one. In general, Márquez admits that he was not able to contribute much to Honda’s development work when he returned to MotoGP in Sepang.

After a long break: Márquez needs kilometers

“I haven’t ridden a MotoGP bike for a long time and especially not much this winter. I’ve ridden the last two weeks but not regularly,” he points out.

“The speed is there, but the feeling of trying things, the feeling of the limit, the feeling of the lines – you lose all those things and you get them by doing laps. So I said to my team, ‘ Forget the parts, I need rounds!’ We tested a few things, but not much.”

Due to an eye injury, Márquez had to end the 2021 season early and also had to skip the test in Jerez. His vision has now been restored, but his right upper arm, which was broken in early 2020, remains a problem.

Injury update: upper arm not at full strength

“I feel better, but you can’t replicate the muscles that you use here on the bike in the studio. But we train hard. Our goal is to reach a good level throughout the year. The problem is: If the If inflammation occurs, pain increases and performance decreases.”

Honda team-mate Pol Espargaro made it through the first day of testing without a crash and ended up ninth in the standings, just behind Marquez. Just 66 thousandths separated the two, with Espargaro eschewing a soft tire time attack.

“With the new bike and medium tires I was fourth for most of the day,” he notes. “In the end, many put on the soft tires and pushed again. We’ll try that tomorrow, because one fast lap is very important these days to get far up the grid.”

Espargaro relies on teamwork during development

The Spaniard is already predicting that qualifying for Honda in 2022 will also be difficult. “There are a lot of Ducatis in the field. They are very strong on a fast lap, as we saw with (Enea) Bastianini today.” The Gresini Ducati rider took a strong fourth place on Saturday.

Espargaro then wants to work on the one fast lap on Sunday and the second MotoGP test in Mandalika. Testing was his priority on Saturday. “Everything is new with this project, so it will take time, but we’ve made a start,” the 30-year-old sums up with satisfaction.

“Not only did Honda bring two 2022 bikes for the two factory riders, the satellite riders are also using the new model. That’s very important. We understood over the past year that we have to work together as a team. That will help us to complete this project together build up.”

“Marc, Alex (Márquez) and Taka (Nakagami) are super talented riders – together we will build a solid bike to start the season in these five days of testing, the first of which has been completed. I think we did a good job today.”

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