Marc Marquez starts the second half of the MotoGP season with a substantial 48-point title lead, but without having attended a recent private test at the Red Bull Ring.
The circuit is returning to the MotoGP
calendar for the first time since 1997 and the test would be dominated by Ducati riders
Repsol Honda and Tech 3 Yamaha were the only teams not to attend. Marquez and team-mate Dani Pedrosa at least have some knowledge of the circuit from a PR appearance on the RC213V-S road bike (pictured), but otherwise they will be counting on data gathered by the satellite LCR and Marc VDS teams to start this weekend.
And then they must 'adapt as quickly as possible'.
"The holidays have been very good because we started the summer break knowing we had worked as well as possible with my team and with Honda in the first part of the season," Marquez said.
"Now I really look forward to getting back to racing my bike and riding again at the Red Bull Ring. I had the chance to enjoy this amazing track twice, even if I wasn't riding my factory bike and of course I couldn't push as much as I like."
Marquez added that the character of the Spielberg circuit reminds him of Austin, where he is currently undefeated after winning on all four of MotoGP's visits to the Texan track.
"It's a circuit that's quite enjoyable; some things about it remind me of Austin in that you have to brake very hard and stop the bike and turn quickly, but then there's the last part that's faster," he said. "I think it's a good track for the World Championship and I can't wait to ride there with a MotoGP bike.
"When you approach a weekend at a new circuit, it's different and you have to be able to adapt as quickly as possible. I'm also proud to race there because my fan club will join us with many Austrian fans. I'm sure we'll have a great weekend and hopefully sunny weather.”
Marquez's closest tile rivals - Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi - were sixth and fifth respectively at the Austrian test. The strong form shown by Ducati riders means there could be a sizeable swing in the points should several Desmosedicis finish in-between the title contenders this weekend.
Pedrosa meanwhile heads to Austria fourth in the world championship, but already 74 points from Marquez with only two podiums from the opening nine rounds.
"We went to the Red Bull Ring for some filming last June, and we were able to do a few laps on the RC213V-S, which is quite an amazing and fast bike. The circuit is in the middle of the woods, a beautiful place indeed," Pedrosa said.
"It's short but it's quite interesting because the width changes a lot so that there are very wide parts and some narrower ones. I would say the hardest thing is that there's only one line and that makes overtaking difficult.
"Anyway there are two or three points at which there's pretty hard braking and where you can overtake because the track is wide. It has a combination of corners that include more right-handers than left-handers, but above all there's a long time where the bike flows a lot. It only stops hard at two corners.
"It's nice to see how you go up the hill and then back down. It will be interesting racing at a new track and to see how our bike goes there. Hopefully we'll be able to do a good job and have a good weekend.”