Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez says he feels like his old self once again after gaining enough confidence with the Michelin tyres to return to the aggressive riding style that has become his trademark.
Marquez continued to build on the promise he showed in free practice in Qatar after a troubled pre-season with the factory RC213V as he came within a whisker of toppling Jorge Lorenzo for pole position, lapping in 1m 54.634s as he finished only 0.091 seconds down on the Yamaha man for second place on the front row.
The two-time premier class champion actually bettered Lorenzo's benchmark by three tenths after the chequered flag went out to signal the end of Q2, with a blissfully unaware Marquez letting it all hang out to set his fastest lap of the week for no worthwhile end result.
Marquez, who then bizarrely almost crashed after veering off the track as he practiced his race start, explained: “We made a miscalculation with the team and on the line, one second after I finished the practice, I didn't see the flag and I pushed for the last lap. I thought that I was on the pole position because I saw on my dashboard '54.2, but okay it's fine in second place.
“Then we finished everything with the practice I had a big moment and we must check what was the problem because this cannot happen in the race because it would be really dangerous.”
Providing his thoughts on how he has finally managed to reproduce his all-action riding style on the new Michelin rubber, Marquez said he has gained enough confidence to ride at his maximum for the first time, even though he concedes it is 'not the safest way'.
“In the pre-season I was smooth, trying to understand the tyres and everything to work well with the new bike, with the new engine,” he said.
“Then when you feel again that you are ready to push, you are riding in your style and my style is always to push 100 per-cent, try to brake late – still we are losing on acceleration, so for that reason I must push a lot on the brake point; I know that maybe it is not the safest way to ride the bike but I must ride like this if I want to stay, at the moment, in the level of Jorge [Lorenzo], [Maverick] Vinales, Valentino [Rossi] and the Ducati riders.
“Two weeks ago it was really crazy, so we did a great job, especially the team and Honda also is supporting me and working 100 per-cent. Still we are not like 100 per-cent in everything in all areas, but we are working well and we made a huge step,” Marquez added.
“We are riding well and in FP4 I feel really good, really constant and then in qualifying practice also I feel ready to make a fast lap. It is a long time ago since I had the feeling to push for one hot lap, so the feeling is coming back and this is the most important for tomorrow in the race.
“We will see our level and how is our rhythm, but I feel ready to fight for the podium and if everything is fine, for the victory.”
Unanswered questions remain over the performance of the new Michelin tyres in a race situation and Marquez feels the opening round of the 2016 world champion at the Losail International Circuit will provide a clearer picture of what to expect during the course of the season.
“It looks like you can make your fastest lap with 10 laps or 16 laps on the tyres, so we will see because during the pre-season you can make a race simulation but then in the race, when you are there, everything is different,” he said.
“Also, we will see how the tyres are after the Moto2 race because normally it changes a little bit the track, so we will see and this we must consider.
“About the race, it looks like in this circuit it will be very tight because many riders have more or less the same pace, so it will be a nice race,” Marquez added.
“Some riders will choose a soft tyre, some riders the had one front and rear because the option is there, so it will be interesting to see, but nobody knows in the real race how it will be.”