Alex Marquez: ‘One of my best opportunities’, but no early advantage

With his MotoGP fortunes seemingly transformed by a switch to Gresini Ducati, Alex Marquez can’t wait for this weekend’s Portimao season opener.

The younger of the Marquez brothers slipped frustratingly down the championship ranking from 14th to 16th to 17th during his MotoGP seasons with Honda.

But he has looked much more like the Moto3 and Moto2 world champion of old ever since stepping onto the 2022-spec Ducati, signing off pre-season testing with the seventh fastest time (+0.434s) and a Sprint race simulation close to the very best.

Now comes the real ‘test’, at Portimao for this weekend’s grand prix.

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“I'm really motivated,” Marquez said on Thursday. “I think this season is one of my best opportunities to show my potential.

“I know the pre-season is really different compared to a GP, but I'm looking forward to start. Starting in a good way will be important, but if not, no panic. We have a long season in front of us.”

A perfect start is exactly what Gresini predecessor Enea Bastianini managed by winning last year’s season-opener, in Qatar.

Given his testing form, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Marquez in contention for victory this weekend. But he warned that - unlike last season - the latest Ducati is already looking formidable.

“I think it will be different compared to last year, when [Ducati] had some problems [with the new bike] in the beginning. I think the ‘23 bike didn't change a lot, like Pecco said many times, so it will not be like last year.

“It's true that we have more information, more data about electronics and all this [for our bike]. But I think it will be really equal for the guys that are with the ‘23 and ‘22.”

Marquez insisted that he has always started a new season with his sights set on victory. The difference this time around is that it also looks realistically possible at some stage over the 42 races.

The 26-year-old is keeping his feet on the ground, having seen grip levels play havoc with Honda’s form last season.

“Last year at this point we were not bad. Later was a disaster. But when we arrived in Qatar, we were not bad, but with grip on track. For that reason, we need to have our feet on the ground [this weekend] because the grip will change compared to the test.

“So we'll try to be really focused from the beginning. Try also to understand the new format of the grand prix weekend, which will be really different. But I think we are quite prepared and quite clear which work we need to do.”

Alex Marquez will be rejoined in at Gresini by team-mate Fabio di Giannantonio, who was forced to miss the final day of testing due to a concussion.

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