Alex Marquez: ‘Ciao’ to Bezzecchi, podium ‘long way’ from 2020

After 42 races without a MotoGP podium, Alex Marquez’s second weekend with Gresini Ducati included a debut pole position and rostrum return.

In-between came a fifth place in the Argentina Sprint, just 2.5s from victory, putting the Spaniard - who hasn’t finished a premier-class season higher than 14th - an early fourth in the world championship.

“If you said to me before coming here that I will get pole, P5 and a podium, I would sign!” Marquez said. “I’m super happy. We are in a constant progression.”

The younger Marquez brother, cheered on by the injured Marc watching from home, waited 896 days to add to the pair of rostrums during his rookie MotoGP season with Repsol Honda in 2020.

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In the top three throughout the wet 25-lap Sunday race, Marquez soon realised it was futile to try and pursue Marco Bezzecchi but held off Ducati’s reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia until just after the midway stage.

When the Italian finally overtook his success was short-lived, sliding off on lap 17. Marquez then kept Franco Morbidelli at bay, before both were surpassed by a charging Johann Zarco, the Frenchman’s GP23 taking second from Marquez on the final lap.

But it wasn’t bad for a first-ever wet race on a Desmosedici.

“The race was a little bit tough for us because in the warmup I was not able to make many laps to try electronics things and setup,” Marquez said. “In the end, for this reason I struggled a little bit too much. But anyway, we need to be happy.

“Marco today was in another level from the first lap and I said, ‘ciao’. Was impossible for me.

Francesco Bagnaia, Alex Marquez, MotoGP race, Argentina MotoGP, 02 April
Francesco Bagnaia, Alex Marquez, MotoGP race, Argentina MotoGP, 02 April

“[With Bagnaia] we just had two overtakes, so it was not a battle. He was pushing a lot when he crashed. In the last corner he was super fast on the braking, but then he lost in the middle point like I crashed yesterday in Q1.

“Later, in the last laps, it was difficult to keep also Morbidelli behind and Johann gained one second a lap. I was pushing a lot. I was trying not to make mistakes. It was a race to survive, but we survived so well and achieved a podium after 2020. That is a long way to here.

“We also achieved a lot of points for the championship that is so long and will be the key for this year. As I said, we are in a constant progression, but we are just in the second round.

“I couldn’t imagine a start like this with Gresini and with Ducati,” admitted Marquez, who spent the last two seasons at LCR Honda. “I felt really good on the bike, I felt really good with the team. Still I’m not riding in the best way for the Ducati and it’s where I need to work a little bit more. Day by day we are doing better things.”

Of the current grid only Zarco, Aleix Espargaro, Jack Miller and Maverick Vinales have also taken MotoGP podiums on more than one brand of bike.

Team-mate Fabio di Giannantonio finished in tenth place.

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