Marc Marquez and Honda are fast running out of time to cure the plight of the 2016 RC213V as the first day of MotoGP testing at Qatar underlined several key problems with the machine.
Placing an uncharacteristic tenth fastest – over a second in arrears of pace setter Jorge Lorenzo and 0.9s slower than his fastest lap in the '15 race – Marquez admitted to losing 'quite a lot of confidence' through the day, as he struggled to adapt to the Losail circuit's differing characteristics.
The four-time world champion explained how chassis issues prevent him from turning the machine as he likes mid-corner, which in turn hinders his speed on the exit of the curve.
“I already said in Phillip Island that here was really good but now we go to Qatar, a track that we are normally struggling,” began the 23-year old.
“Definitely we struggle, today quite a lot. We are trying to work on some aspects of the bike to improve. The positive thing is that still two days remain. Also, we are in the circuit where we struggled most during the season. We must look forward and try to improve these areas.
“The main problem is mid-corner turning and exit. The main thing is it is like a consequence. The entry of the corner is not so bad but mid-corner it's hard to turn. Then in the exit you use too much banking because you can't turn in the mid corner.
“Everything is related. We are trying to improve the turning of the bike and then trying to improve the exit. The thing is me and Dani are using a different chassis and we both have the same problem. Also Cal. We are trying to find the way.”
Although severely flawed in its power delivery, especially on corner exit, the 2015 RCV in Marquez's hands – and equipped with a '14 chassis from Assen - was able to hold its own in braking, a facet that was visible in the Spaniard's victories in Indianapolis and Phillip Island.
Steps have been made with electronics in recent weeks, said Marquez, but such is the nature of Qatar's open, flowing bends, the HRC men are unable to utilise the machine's main potential; braking, something that is backed up by the timing screens.
“The thing is with the electronics we improved. With the chassis in this circuit, with the geometry side we are struggling. That means in Malaysia we were struggling with the electronics but there you can use our potential that is the braking point. You can brake late. Here you can't because all the corners are quite big and you must float on the bike on the track. We are trying to improve this area.
“Today I worked more on the engine. For Honda it was important to understand one thing. Tomorrow I will concentrate more on the chassis. On the last day more on the electronics but we must improve the balance of the bike, to try and give me the confidence again. In Phillip Island the confidence was there but here I lost quite a lot of confidence.”