But there have been only four podiums in the 18, injury-interrupted, races since and the Repsol Honda rider doubts that statistic will change at Jerez on Sunday.

Still struggling with front feeling on the new RCV, Marquez used all his guile to hitch a tow from faster riders in each of his three Saturday sessions.

The last of those, behind reigning world champion and pre-race favourite Fabio Quartararo, allowed him to claim a competitive-sounding fifth place on the grid.

But the Spaniard is under no illusions as to the task ahead and claimed a top-five finish will be a good result in the race.

“We are not ready to fight for the podium,” Marquez said. “A good result will be to try to be in the top five. But even like this will be very very, very difficult. From 5th-10th is our position at the moment and it’s where we will try to fight.”

Marc Marquez: ‘The past was the past’

The eight-time world champion insisted he’s not getting frustrated at having to set his sights on such lower targets.

“You only get frustrated if the expectation is too high. My expectation today was to try to be on the third row and I finished second row, so I'm happy,” Marquez said.

“Yesterday I was 19th and in Portimao I finished 16-second behind the leader, so your target needs to be optimistic always, but at the same time try to achieve what you can.

“And tomorrow what we can achieve is 5th, 6th, 7th place. In a good race. Not in a bad race. So it’s what we will try.

“Of course, I would like to say I'm ready to win or fight the podium, but now we are not ready. The past was the past. Now is now and in the past everything was easier. Now everything is more difficult, so we need to work.”

After trying some radical changes on Friday, without success, Marquez and his crew went back to a normal base set-up for day two.

“With this new bike you need to ride in a different way. Yesterday, we tried to adapt the bike in a radical way to my riding style, but I cannot ride this bike like this, so today we came back to the way that the bike wants you to ride. To what is more-or-less the same base for all four Hondas.

“It's true that in my personal case still, I'm still struggling a lot with the front. The turning is slow. It’s there where we need to understand because as soon I try to push a bit more, then it's easy to crash.”

Rejecting talk that design of the new bike was too heavily influenced by the other Honda riders, Marquez admitted the new machine is fundamentally different from those he won 59 races with from 2013-2021.

“I heard some comments that ‘they didn’t follow the comments of Marc’, but I agreed with that change,” Marquez said. “But it's true that with the [old] bike everything was more natural.

“It was a bike that I rode since 2013, some evolutions, but the character was the same. Now it's a big difference, and even Honda is trying to understand many things.

“Pol for example. He's riding in a different way, he's fast even though he's starting 13th. He’s riding maybe better than me with this new bike because I think he can ride it a bit similar to what he had in KTM.

“Last year I won three races, but in Austin it was also possible to win [again this year], Germany is coming up and the Misano win was because Bagnaia crashed. Then I did a podium in Aragon.

“So it’s still in the left tracks [where I’m strongest]… like Austin, you could give another bike to me and I would be fast there. It’s like here with Nakagami; always at Jerez, he’s riding well and fast.

“So there is something also with the riding style I need to improve and I try to push myself to understand this as well.”

After missing two races due to diplopia and taking a best of fifth in the other three, Marquez starts the Jerez race just eleventh in the world championship standings, 38 points from Quartararo and Alex Rins.

LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami has qualified in seventh place, with Pol Espargaro 13th, wild-card Stefan Bradl 20th and Alex Marquez 22nd.

While Marc Marquez remained upright after Friday's double fall, Espargaro, Bradl and Alex Marquez all suffered front-end accidents on Saturday.