The perceived wisdom was that Marc Marquez would need to tone down his extreme riding style to suit MotoGP's switch from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres.
The Repsol Honda star was famous for exploiting the seemingly endless grip from the Bridgestone front, tipping into corners with his rear wheel still dangling in the air - at least until last year's RCV issues - then sliding the rear to turn the bike as needed on the exit.
But this year's new Michelins have an opposite grip character, the rear being glued to the ground and front far more delicate. The double MotoGP champion admits he experimented with a less aggressive style during winter testing, but it went out of the window once he felt confident.
“During the pre-season I was thinking a lot about my riding style, about trying to find another way to ride with the Michelin tyres and all these things. Also the balance of the bike didn't feel great,” said Marquez, a close third in Qatar and winner last weekend in Argentina.
“So I tried to change many, many things - but in the end when I felt good on the bike the first time – which was the last day of the pre-season - I started to again use my normal riding style.
“Some slides - I try to control these slides because if not I overheat the tyre - but in the end when a rider feels comfortable with the bike and everything is working well, it comes natural.
“Your style is this one and you cannot change. I always have an aggressive style, sliding a lot. In the end, okay you can improve and it depends on the condition of the track, but it comes naturally.”
Marquez starts this weekend's event at Circuit of the Americas undefeated in any US-based MotoGP race since joining the premier-class in 2013. But with acceleration the weakest area of the 2016 RC213V package, it won't be easy to keep his streak alive.
“The corner grip is not so bad compared with the other bikes, but it looks like we are not fast enough and especially in fourth, fifth, sixth gear I can't follow Suzuki, Yamaha or Ducati.
“But I know Honda is working a lot. One of their priorities is always top speed and acceleration, so they are doing a big effort and they start to bring already some new parts. So I hope that in the future will be better.
“Our weak point is acceleration, but also we have some other strong points. We will see what happens, but both Ducatis will be there because already last year Dovizioso was very fast. Yamaha have two top riders, so they will be there and also Vinales has a good bike, team and talent to be there.
“So it'll be an interesting weekend and we'll try to manage as well as possible to fight for the podium or victory.”
Marquez currently leads the standings by eight points over Valentino Rossi.
Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, one of the riders who was expected to benefit most from the Michelin character, has finished fifth and third so far, 12sec and then 28sec behind Marquez.
By Peter McLaren
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