26 June 2014
Assen MotoGP: Honda 'stronger' at Assen this year, warns Marquez
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez believes Honda has slashed Yamaha's advantage at Assen in 2014 as he sets out to maintain his unbeaten run this season in the Dutch MotoGP
Marc Marquez has warned that he feels his Repsol Honda RCV213V is more competitive at Assen this year after 'suffering' at the Dutch track in 2013.
Valentino Rossi won the race last season for Yamaha but after the first free practice sessions, Marquez is confident he will be more than a match for the Italian great and Jorge Lorenzo on Saturday as he aims to uphold his unbeaten record this year.
The defending world champion was second fastest behind the Forward Yamaha of Aleix Espargaro, lapping in 1m 33.864s to finish 0.211s off the top.
“Today went pretty well and I'm happy, because last year we suffered a lot at this track,” said Marquez.
“I think is a good track for both Honda and Yamaha; they were better here last year but maybe this year we have taken a step forward and I feel very comfortable and happy with the pace that I have.
“We'll see tomorrow, because it seems that we're not so strong in the low temperatures, but I am convinced that we can match the competitors level.”
Marquez expect a tough race on Saturday similar to his battles with Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa at Mugello and Catalunya respectively.
“The results are closer, I started the season so good and the level was so high, but like I always say, we cannot forget who the other riders are," he said.
“They improve a lot and they are closer: Mugello, Montmelo and Assen were always three tracks where I said we would struggle a little bit more, but at Mugello and Montmelo we did a very good race, though everything was closer.
“The positive thing is that here, I enjoy the bike and I'm riding well and I feel that we can make another step for tomorrow," he added.
“At some circuits, maybe we will arrive in Germany and the level of Dani [Pedrosa] is really fast there and maybe he will be stronger than us, or maybe we will be stronger than them, but in the end it is what I always say – you cannot be the fastest in every practice or every Sunday, but we try to be there.
“Of course my level looks like it is staying on the same line but it's important that it is consistent on that line."
Marquez also feels predicted colder temperatures on Friday and Saturday will play into the hands of his Yamaha rivals.
“Lorenzo, Dani and me have a really good rhythm and this afternoon it looks like our bike was quite good because it was quite warm, but tomorrow and especially Saturday it looks like it will be much colder and the Yamaha will be much closer to our level," he said.
The 21-year-old survived a rear wheel slide in FP2 but Marquez is reluctant to adapt his all-action style, saying he feels more comfortable pushing to the maximum.
“When you do that slide you are pushing a lot and you heat the rear tyre," he said. "I might try to change, but if I change I don't feel comfortable and I move 0.5s slower in the lap."
The Honda star also expects Aleix Espargaro to be a frontrunner in Saturday's race rather than merely a contender for pole position.
“With the extra soft we saw that he is really fast, but nobody from the top put a new tyre [in] in the last minutes, so I expect that if we put a new tyre in we can improve to a 1m 33s low," Marquez said.
"Anyway this is one of Aleix's favourite circuits and here the power of the engine is not so important and I think he will be strong also in the race.”
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