Having adopted a more flowing riding style to counter a lack of acceleration in Austin, MotoGP title leader Marc Marquez made further tweaks to both his technique and base set-up on the opening day in Spain.
As Marquez had suspected, the previous set-up for his Repsol Honda didn't transfer over to the first European event of the season at the twisty Jerez circuit. After setting the second fastest lap time, 0.345s behind Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, Marquez explained:
“We started in FP1 and we already saw that the base set-up from Qatar, Argentina, Austin was not the best one here. This track is completely different. It is more stop-and-go. So the pitching is not the same, and we are trying to understand this and find a base for the European tracks. I said I was afraid about this and in FP1 I could already see that the base was not the correct one. So we changed a lot for FP2 and it was much better.
“The important thing is that we're not far off Jorge [Lorenzo], who is fastest at the moment. Valentino [Rossi] has also been very consistent, but I'm happy with how the team have been working and how they reacted to issues, so we'll see if we can take another step forward tomorrow.”
In terms of his riding, Marquez admitted that he is again trying to make up for time lost during acceleration by using wider lines and later braking, “But of course in this track it is more difficult because it is more narrow. You can change the line, but not a lot.
“At the moment in some corners I'm still doing too much 2015 style and I need to change a little bit. Like in the brake points; sometimes I brake too deep, too late and I think for the Michelin tyres it is not the best way.”
A more visual modification was the debut of a larger set of winglets on the front of his RC213V.
“I tried this morning and on the data we cannot see a clear improvement. On riding also it's difficult, but you know honestly in FP2 I say 'ok I will keep to try to understand more' because the others are using [wings]. So this was the main reason! To try to understand more.
“Maybe tomorrow I will come back to the normal, small, wings. But it looks like with these big ones maybe the front is more stable, but we must be careful because sometimes it is pushing the front down too much in the fast corners.
“This is something critical, because if you push but the bike is turning, then you don't overheat the tyres. But if the bike is not turning and you try push, and closing the front, then you overheat the front. So we are trying to… I know that it's difficult because is some technical questions, but we are trying to understand well if we have some advantage. So maybe tomorrow I will try again.”
Like many riders, rear wheelspin was an issue for Marquez on Friday. The Spaniard does not think it is a consequence of the stiffer Michelin tyre construction.
“Last year here we complained a lot from the rear grip with Bridgestone and it looks like with Michelin also we are struggling, but we already expect,” he said.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was the next best Honda rider, in ninth place.
By Peter McLaren