Marquez laughs off double Grand Prix claim by Espargaro, ‘trying to survive’

Marc Marquez says replacing the Sprint MotoGP race with a second full-length Grand Prix is ‘impossible', after Aleix Espargaro said it would be a safer option.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Portimao MotoGP 2023
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Portimao MotoGP 2023

The first-ever MotoGP Sprint race was a cracker in Portimao, although opinions were split when it came to whether it was a success among the riders, particularly after fears of increased injury proved to be the case.

Although not at the same time of day, the Sprint races in 2023 have effectively replaced FP4 which was one of the quieter sessions on a weekend.

Four riders suffered early crashes in the Sprint race, one of which included a collision between Luca Marini and fellow Ducati rider Enea Bastianini, which left the latter with a broken shoulder blade. 

When talking about the Sprint race, Espargaro was clearly not its biggest fan as he said a second Grand Prix instead of the Sprint would be a safer alternative.

However, both Marquez and winner of the inaugural Sprint race, Francesco Bagnaia, strongly disagreed.

Starting with Marquez, the eight-time world champion said: "Impossible to have two races at full distance! I’m not agree. What I want to understand is how it’s going in other circuits before giving my opinion of a schedule. 

"But it’s true that it is so demanding. Especially because Friday is counting towards the QP2. I want to understand this better in another circuit."

Bagnaia added: "Sincerely, no! I’m not agree with Aleix. Superbike can do it because their laps are less and it’s a softer bike? I don’t know. But for us it is very demanding and we also have the Q2 which is very strong, very competitive and you have to give a lot of strength to be in front. 

"Also, the day before you have a one hour session where the final 20/25 minutes you are pushing to be in front. 

"The only change, maybe, is to ask for a similar format as Formula 1 qualifying with Q1, Q2, Q3. I don’t know. To do another long race is too much."

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023

Starting from pole after a sensational qualifying performance, Marquez was unable to hold on for victory after leading in the early stages.

However, after difficulties in testing, and being pushed as far down as fifth with just two laps remaining, Marquez fought back to claim an impressive and before the weekend, unlikely P3.  

Aiding Marquez in his fightback is the fact that he’s fully fit for the first time in three years, which he admitted helped during the all-action Sprint.

"About my physical condition, I feel ready, I feel okay. It was the main difference compared to the last few years," added the Repsol Honda rider. 

"Now, if I’m not able to arrive by talent or by the performance we have, then I can ride in a more physical way and I can take that profit. That means more risk but now I can do it." 

Marquez, who clearly out-performed his bike based on where other Honda riders finished, or in Mir’s case where he was running before crashing out after hitting Fabio Quartararo at turn 13, was keen not to say whether Honda aren’t delivering a package good enough.

Marquez added: "I have what I have and now we are together. We need to work together with Honda and with me. You don’t gain anything to complain about it. 

"I don’t know where other Hondas were today but you have that bike, that package, and I just need to find the way. 

"Sometimes not in the best way like this morning, or in the most polite way but this is a competition and I’m trying to survive. Trying to survive is finding the best in any moment."

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