In the face of mounting criticism directed toward at the revised Circuit of Catalunya layout, used by MotoGP in 2017, Marc Marquez has defended the use of the final chicane, saying, in terms of safety, "it's the only way."

Riders decided to use the revamped turn 13 and 14 for this year's race, which is tighter than that used by Formula1 cars, due to the proximity of a wall on the inside of the track. The stretch of tarmac between turns 13 and 14 is longer if the F1 layout is used, meaning riders approach that with greater speed.

Yet the new layout has thrown up fresh concerns. Loris Baz's afternoon spill highlighted the danger of a rider falling at turn 14, as the bike can career over the track, into the way of anyone entering the following corner.

Many riders, including Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vi?ales were outspoken in their criticism of the new succession of corners, but Marquez insisted it is the best option in terms of safety.

"I already said yesterday, the old layout was more natural but of course the change that we did was for safety," he said. "It's the only way. At the end the layout only changed one corner.

"A lot of riders complain a lot but the layout remain the same [as 2016]. Only change one corner. It's different. But when you take a good rhythm then it's even fun."

On Baz's crash, he feels the positive point is that, if a rider falls when entering turn 14, they are travelling at such low speed it is easier for oncoming riders to avoid. Hardly ideal, but this seems the best of all available situations.

"It's the only problem," he said. "Always when you have a chicane or a change of direction. I was watching a Superbike race in Donington two weeks ago. When you have the change of direction it's so easy if you crash at the first one, you go straight to the next one.

"The positive thing is that you go 40 or 50kph and you have a lot of time to try to move from the good line and try to avoid."

Marquez ended the first day of free practice top of the time sheets, after showing front pace and a good race rhythm, honed at a one-day private test here in May.

Asked what differences there were between this venue and Mugello, where he and the Honda riders struggled, the 24-year old explained the improvement was due to the different front tyre compounds on offer this weekend.

"For me it's only a compound thing. If you see, I can't really use the medium one. For me and the other Honda riders it didn't work. Already it was too soft. We went directly to the hard one, even if that was a little bit of trouble but we go to that straight away. At Mugello what we had in the race was more similar to the medium one, the one we have here.

"For that reason I went straight to the hard one. It looks like it's working better in these conditions but I want to wait until tomorrow. It looks like the weather will be warmer and even on Sunday more. Still waiting to see how is the feeling but today was good."

By Neil Morrison

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