15 June 2015
MotoGP Catalunya: Marquez tempted by 2014 chassis switch
“Old chassis with the new swingarm, with other things. And that looks like it was working good” – Marc Marquez.
Struggling MotoGP champion Marc Marquez could switch to last year's Honda chassis after a 'good' first impression at Monday's Catalunya test.
Marquez has battled corner-entry problems with the latest RC213V since the start of the season, a rear-wheel slide under braking sending him to a disastrous third DNF of the year in Sunday's race.
“We still not decide [if we will use the 2014 chassis next time at Assen],” said Marquez, speaking at the back of the Repsol Honda pits. “I was at a meeting now and we need to see where, which points we improved. The thing is that the feeling was good. I feel good and a good potential.
“But I only did 5-7 laps [because of the rain] and I cannot say if it is much better or much worse, because you need to try with new tyres, with old tyres, with a long run and today we didn't have the opportunity.”
Marquez had tried three different bike specifications at the start of 2015 pre-season testing in February (a fourth was available, but not used). They were: A 2014 bike, the Valencia Test version of the 2015 bike and a newer version of the 2015 bike, which Marquez ultimately selected.
Honda confirmed to Crash.net that the 'old' chassis used at the Catalunya test was the one Marquez finished last season with, however:
“It is not only the old chassis, it is a package,” Marquez revealed. “Old chassis with the new swingarm, with other things [including the new exhaust]. And that looks like it was working good.
“It felt different but especially more-or-less like year. I can do more mistakes and then with the new one it is like you need to be really precise. You cannot do any mistakes like Sunday.
“With this one it is more like 2013, 2014 [bike]. You can do more mistakes. Try to avoid what happened Sunday, but it is early to say because I did not many laps.”
Marquez completed 20 laps before the Monday rain, a best time of 1m 42.197s putting him fourth on the timesheets, 0.179s behind Bradley Smith (Tech 3). Team-mate Dani Pedrosa did not try the old chassis.
“The thing is that Dani is working a little bit different than me. He is using another chassis, completely different riding style,” Marquez explained. “I cannot say if it is better or worse. But we have two different riding styles and some things that I try he liked, and some things he liked I don't.”
Honda must now decide if Monday's limited test running justifies risking the old chassis in free practice at Assen.
“We need to plan well the Assen GP and we need to be careful about the weather too,” Marquez said. “Because if we use one day for the electronics and other things then [maybe] we cannot find the best set-up for the race. So we need to be careful about that. But now we are in a moment where we need to try many things, but we are closer to being at a good level.”
Marquez, winner of the opening ten races of last season, has claimed just one win this year and is now 69 points from Yamaha's title leader Valentino Rossi. Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo claimed his fourth victory in a row on Sunday.
“I watched the first two laps of the race on TV. The other laps I was already here in the pit box!” smiled Marquez, who narrowly avoided Lorenzo as he ran off track on lap 3. “I was comfortable behind Jorge but it was the first two laps with fresh tyres so I cannot take any conclusion. The thing is that Yamaha were really strong in those conditions.”
The Honda, and especially Marquez, relies on extreme corner entry to achieve peak performance, highlighted by Marquez previously leaning into turns with his rear wheel still in the air. But the rear grip of the 2015 bike has become too unpredictable for such on-edge riding, catching Marquez out.
Marquez has suggested that the 2015 engine character could be the cause of his issues, which also include movement on corner exit, however the MotoGP development freeze means no changes to engine design are allowed during the season.
But there are no such restrictions on modifications to other areas and Honda has already brought revisions to on the swingarm, exhaust and electronics.
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