MotoGP champion Marc Marquez finds himself in a similar position to last year's Sepang test - trying to adapt the spec ECU to the new Honda engine and tame aggressive corner-exit wheelies.

While the single electronics were new for last season, this time around HRC has a new RC213V engine, which replaces the former even-firing 'screamer' with a more rideable 'big bang' style firing order.

Or at least that's what most people in the paddock think - Honda is still refusing to officially confirm or deny the 'big bang' move.

"I don't know if it's a 'big bang'," claimed Marquez. "It's a different characteristic. But it's a different engine, we have to try to understand it well."

Whatever it is, the engine change means last year's ECU mapping is no longer relevant.

"The problems of the wheelie and the acceleration is still there," the Spaniard added, after finishing day two of testing in tenth place, one-second from the top. "But now it's another kind of problem and I think we need more kilometres.

"We arrived here and the base [engine] map is the same, like we had here [for the race] and we need to readjust everything, and of course try to understand well the direction. Because we are here to work, we are not here to make an incredible lap time.

"Of course, if the lap time is coming, it's better, but we are here to try to understand well, and to try to not have these problems in another circuit. Because at a GP we will not have much time during the practice.

"One of the areas that we are working on a lot is on the exit of the corner. As soon as you touch the gas, you have to change or find another strategy to try to use all the power of the engine, to try to find this grip."

Despite such issues, and his position on the timesheet, Marquez insists the bike is in better shape than at the same test one year ago: "At the same time last year, yes, we are in a better way."

Indeed, the Repsol rider labelled corner exit as his only real problem.

"Only this problem. We need to concentrate there. Of course, with the chassis set-up we can improve something, but chassis set-up is not a big thing. We need to focus on the electronics side."

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was 14th quickest.

The Sepang test, the first of three official pre-season outings, concludes on Wednesday evening.

By Peter McLaren


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