Winner of the 2019 Moto2 title, Marquez’s results have been on a downward slide since his rookie season in the premier-class, alongside brother Marc, at Repsol Honda.

In the aftermath of Marc’s arm injuries, Alex emerged as the only Honda rider to stand on the podium (twice) on his way to 74 points and 14th in the world championship.

But a switch to LCR, agreed even before his first MotoGP race, reversed the momentum and Alex slipped to 70 points and 16th in the 2021 standings, then 50 points and 17th overall this season.

It made little sense for either Marquez or Honda to continue together with such results and Marquez grabbed the chance to join Gresini in place of four-time race winner Enea Bastianini.

Like Bastianini, Marquez will ride year-old Desmosedicis, but the GP22 comes with an even higher pedigree than its predecessor, having won the world championship with Francesco Bagnaia.

At the end of 73 laps on the bike at Valencia, Marquez was 15th fastest but only 0.680s from the top of the timesheets.

Who IMPRESSED and who was FUMING at Valencia Test? | MotoGP 2022

“From the first run I felt really good on the bike, already quite fast and quite competitive,” Marquez said.

“I was able to do 31.8. So I was surprised, honestly, with the lap time already in the first run.

“I listened to many Ducati guys [saying] the front is sometimes a little bit tricky. But here, on this day, with this grip, the front feeling and also the stopping of the bike was really food.

“Still I think I'm not really critical in any one point [so] I have margin and the bike has margin and this is amazing.

“It was nice to ride, honestly. I expected more of an aggressive bike, with the throttle. You have the power, but the delivery is really smooth. This helps the rider a lot to be really constant.

“The winter will be too long now! We know the potential of the bike and in one lap I was not able to extract the maximum, but I’m happy to be just 0.6 from the top on my first day with the bike.

“But the most important thing is that I was able to be really constant with a quite good pace.”

‘This bike works with many different styles’

One of the standout features of the current Ducati, compared to other machines, is that it can be competitive with different riding styles.

“I changed [my riding style] on the corner entry, to use a little bit more angle from the beginning, not just to brake straight. But for the rest, I mean my natural style is coming a little bit easier with this bike,” Marquez said.

“As we saw, this bike works with many different styles and it looks like my one is not bad.

“I cannot make a comparison [with the Honda] for contract reasons but yeah, is different.”

But having seen a promising winter for the 2022 Honda disappear early in the racing season, Marquez is keeping a lid on any expectations at this stage.

“It’s too early to say. Last year the winter was really positive. But then we arrived in Mandalika and all this and it was a disaster,” he said.

“So with that experience, I will not have high expectations.

“The winter and especially the pre-season, will be really important to create a really solid base to arrive to Portimao in a good way.

“The positive thing is that we have this bike [throughout next year], so we don’t need to try many different things during the season. We just need to build up the confidence and see how we can extract the potential.

di Giannantonio joins forces with ex-Joan Mir crew chief Carchedi

On the other side of the Gresini garage is 2022 rookie Fabio di Giannantonio, who was working with Joan Mir’s former Suzuki crew chief Frankie Carchedi for the first time at the Valencia test.

After a frustrating second half of the season on a GP21, di Giannantonio also enjoyed his first taste of the GP22, setting the sixth-fastest lap time (+0.451s).

“A really positive first day," di Giannantonio said. “From the first run I felt really good on the bike already quite fast and quite competitive. And this is the most important thing. We tried all day to not make many changes on the bike, just trying to adapt to the bike and this was really positive.”