Marc Marquez: Pecco or Fabio for title? ‘I bet on Pecco’s bike!’

MotoGP World Championship leaders Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia will go into the final three rounds of the 2022 season separated by just two points after another title twist in Sunday's Buriram round.
Francesco Bagnaia MotoGP race, Thailand MotoGP 2 October
Francesco Bagnaia MotoGP race, Thailand MotoGP 2 October

Rollercoaster fortunes at Aragon, Motegi and now Thailand have resulted in the pair suffering a total of three DNFs in the last three rounds.

Quartararo collided with Marc Marquez on the opening lap at Aragon, then struggled to a lowly 17th place in the wet Buriram race.

Meanwhile, factory Ducati’s Bagnaia crashed out while attempting a last lap pass on Quartararo at Motegi, but bounced back with third on Sunday.

All of which puts the pair almost even, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro also lurking 20-points from the top with 75 remaining.

So who would six-time MotoGP champion Marquez put his money on?

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“I bet on Pecco’s bike!” Marquez replied after his own fifth-place finish at Buriram. “I mean Ducati is Ducati and, as we see, many riders at Ducati are good.

“But Fabio is Fabio. Fabio is riding very good. His weak point is maybe in rain conditions, like today, but yeah it will be interesting to see on the track... I don’t want to bet [on a rider]!”

Ducati has won 11 of the 17 rounds this season; 6 by Bagnaia, 4 for Enea Bastianini and 1 for Jack Miller. Quartararo has claimed 3 victories for Yamaha, with the other M1 riders yet to even take a top ten finish in the dry this year.

Marc Marquez MotoGP race, Thailand MotoGP 2 October
Marc Marquez MotoGP race, Thailand MotoGP 2 October

Marquez: This is the problem when you are behind a Ducati!

Marquez got a first hand taste of Ducati’s technical strengths as he chased Bagnaia for third throughout the middle stages of Sunday’s Buriram race, before being overtaken by the Pramac machine of Johann Zarco.

“I did a solid race, a bit like in Motegi,” Marquez said. “I started calm, found my rhythm and warmed the tyres. In the first five laps I was able to take more risk, but OK, it’s time to do these races now I believe. This is what I thought.

“Then step-by-step I got the rhythm and I was getting faster and faster, but it is the [usual] problem when you are behind a Ducati! To overtake you need to be much, much faster because they are braking so late and especially they have amazing acceleration.

“When I caught Pecco I could not find a place to pass him because I was just a little bit faster but not enough. Then Zarco overtook… when you have good speed and acceleration then it is easier.”

Zarco’s charge came to a sudden halt behind Bagnaia, the Frenchman later admitting he didn’t want to risk an incident with Ducati’s title contender and decided to settle for fourth.

“It’s true that Zarco was coming up very fast, overtook me and then stayed behind Pecco,” Marquez said.

“Ducati has not won the world championship since 2007 so it’s normal that when there is the ‘Ducati Cup’ in front they must take profit from it.

“They have the best bike on the grid. So their riders are in the front and they must use that power to win the championship”

Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Thailand MotoGP, 2 October
Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Thailand MotoGP, 2 October

Marquez: My first ‘full attack’ weekend

Bagnaia, Zarco and Marquez were all covered by just one second at the finish, with the Repsol Honda star only 2.9s from KTM race winner Miguel Oliveira.

More important to Marquez was that he not only put his healing right arm through a punishing Aragon-Motegi-Buriram triple header but had been able to mount his first ‘full attack’ weekend since surgery in June.

“Honestly speaking, the rain conditions saved my life because it’s true it was the first time I approached the weekend 'full-attack' from FP1. And I was riding as you could see on the TV; aggressive, moving the bike, shaking and saving some crashes.

“But today I got up and the arm was ‘blocked’, I felt like it was very stiff. In the warm-up the feeling was horrible, but then we worked in the Clinica and I was able to race in a good way. There was not any limitation from the physical condition.”

But he conceded: “You can see there is a bit [of fatigue] as soon as I put the elbow up [on the bike], it means the arm is not working well and the fatigue is there.

“But during all weekend I was able to ride in a good way, with the elbow in a good position. Today I was not riding perfect but in rain conditions, I need to say that there was not a limitation.”

Marquez will now head back to Spain for further rehabilitation before the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island on October 14-16.

“I would like to stay around here but work is work and I am working now to come back to the top," he said. "In Spain I must visit the physios, also the doctors, everything is OK, but just to control well and continue the work.

“Phillip Island will be a tough circuit, especially with the Honda because our weak points will be ‘concentrated’. But for me the most important thing is that from Aragon to the Thai GP I felt big [physical] steps.

“That was the target and I know in Australia maybe Honda will bring some new parts… Let’s see, we are working for 2023.”

Younger brother Alex Marquez was the next best Honda rider on Sunday, in eighth place.

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