Marc Marquez 19th: ‘You don't gain anything being angry’

Not for the first time in his MotoGP career, Marc Marquez goes into the last day of pre-season testing needing a breakthrough with his Repsol Honda.

The Spaniard was just 19th fastest during the start of the final pre-season test at Portimao on Saturday, as he again worked through some ‘big’ changes on his RC213V for the HRC engineers.

But he ended up selecting the same frame and indeed bike he had preferred at the previous Sepang test. With time running out, Marquez feels he must now make the best of what he’s got and start working on a set-up for the opening race weekend.

“I didn't stop at lunchtime, I just kept riding because still we had many, many things to try,” Marquez said. “I tried to concentrate everything today, because tomorrow I would like to work more for the first GP.

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“Today I tried big things, especially aerodynamic and some big setup concept, just to understand for the engineers. But tomorrow, with the best [parts] we have, we will concentrate more to work on the small details to start to prepare for the race weekend.”

Another area of doubt for Marquez is his clutch set-up, having struggled with practice starts this winter.

“They changed the clutch this year and it's quite [harsh] in the first part. So yeah, it becomes dangerous even. So tomorrow we have already one [new] set up to try on the clutch to try to avoid that [spinning].”


‘We are still far from the top guys’

Marquez’s best time was 1.399s behind Ducati’s reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia.

Unlike Marquez, Bagnaia’s pre-season testing program is already “90%” finished, having felt a good step from “every part we tested and everything we changed in terms of setting”.

The Italian now intends to use the final day to conduct a dry run of the revised weekend qualifying and race schedule, possibly including simulations for both the Sprint and Grand Prix, ahead of the opening event at the same track on March 24-26.

Marquez is in a very different situation.

“Today we finished with exactly the same bike as [we chose in] Malaysia. It’s the best package I could find here. So yeah, we are still far from the top guys," he said.

“Honestly, we cannot be very optimistic about the result. But you don't gain anything by being angry.

“So now, tomorrow, with the best [bike] we have, we would like to find the best setup, the best rhythm, the best lap time and try to look for the best in in every situation.”

The eight-time world champion underlined the size of the task ahead when he confessed to being half-a-second per lap from the fastest Ducatis. In other words, +12.5s over a full 25-lap race and +6.25s over a Sprint.

“Against Ducati we are far, but there is a big group [after them] where we are not very far,” Marquez told’s After the Flag show, confirming the gap is currently “more-or-less half a second per lap”.

Marquez was among the riders to fall on Saturday, his first of the year, but put it down to a simple lack of concentration.

“IDoing 80 laps in a day it's true that it's difficult to be [focussed] all the day. I was just in turn 14, thinking about going into the box and I hit a bump and lost the front. It was a very slow crash, the bike just damaged a wing so it didn't cost us time.”

LCR’s Alex Rins was the fastest Honda on day one in Portimao, in eleventh, with Marquez’s new team-mate Joan Mir in 14th and Takaaki Nakagami 23rd.

All of which leaves Marquez and Honda in need of another last-minute testing breakthrough, but things have turned in their favour before...

  • In 'crisis' with their new bike on the penultimate day of 2016 testing, HRC considered a shock switch back to the 2015 engine. It was tried in secret on the final day in Qatar but when it didn't solve their problems, riders and teams were fully commited to making the '16 engine work. Marquez finished on the podium in round one, and won his third world title.
  • In 2020, Marquez hailed a 'great step' from combining a mix of new and old parts, after heading into the final day of pre-season testing 'completely lost'. He then charged through the field in a class of his own at the Covid-delayed Jerez season-opener, before suffering his fateful arm fracture in the closing laps.

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