One of those faster riders was young brother Alex, whom Marc kept at bay until the midway stage of the 13 laps when the Repsol Honda rider yielded ninth place.

“Today I put that extra [effort] but to do that is very demanding on the physical side and very difficult over a race distance,” Marquez explained. “For single lap, like qualifying practice was OK, but in the sprint race, I didn't have the pace in the first laps to follow the top guys.

“Then my brother caught me. I saw that it was him and with more riders [behind]. I knew from practice he had better pace. And what I did is let him pass to use him to open the gap with the others.

“I did 3-4 laps like qualifying practice, low 32s, using everything. Just pushing a lot on the brakes. But I cannot ride like this for a long time and my real pace is 32.4, 32.6.”

A MotoGP Miracle for Pecco Bagnaia 🙏

Marquez emphasised that it is not a case of lacking fitness, but simply the amount of effort needed to find time in the only area possible with the Honda, braking.

“I'm in a very good shape now and in the gym and training bikes I feel very fit. But when you put that extra, you need to do it on the brake points,” he said.

“On the acceleration side, all the Hondas are more-or-less the same. On the straight, all the Hondas are the same. You need to do it on the corner entry and on the change of directions and to do that is pushing more, forcing more.

“That puts even more tension on your arms and especially in the sprint race, I put a lot of torque on the bike and I was fighting too much with the wheelie.

“If I’m riding like I was behind my brother for more laps I will have arm pump,” he added. “But it's normal because if you ride like qualifying practice for 5-6 laps you feel destroyed.

“I needed to be smart like today. Try to use all the slipstreams from all the riders that were faster than me to open the gaps against the others.

“For example, today I didn't get into any fights. In the middle of the race there was Binder, Vinales, Espargaro having a big fight [just in front] but I didn’t go in. Because I know that I don’t have the pace to be with them.

“So I need to use them to escape from the others and be more relaxed in the end.”

Marc Marquez: ‘Japanese staff decide we cannot compare data with Bradl’

With all eyes on Monday’s official test, when Marquez will get to try the 2024 Honda prototype, the Spaniard was asked if he has compared his machine with that of test rider Stefan Bradl, competing at Misano on a prototype bike (albeit fitted with the 2023 engine).

“No, this weekend, we cannot compare [our] data with Stefan,” Marquez revealed.

“Japanese staff decide like this and just we compare against the other Hondas. Maybe Monday of course I hope that we can compare with him.”

Nonetheless, the eight-time world champion has drawn some initial impressions from the TV images and timing screens.

“Look in qualifying practice he was not bad. But on the race distance, was struggling more,” Marquez said.

“So in the end, the character of the bike looks very similar and especially the way to do the lap time, if you check the qualifying practice he was looking for a slipstream.

“I'm not looking always for a slipstream because I like to follow other guys. It's because the bike is changing a lot behind the others and we need to understand why.

“Because normally with a MotoGP bike you are faster alone than behind the others. But for some reason with this bike, this year and even last year, it was crucial to follow somebody.”

Marc Marquez: 2024 speculation ‘never distracts’

Marquez continues to keep everyone guessing over his plans for 2024 but insists all the rumours about a shock move to join his brother at Gresini Ducati are not a distraction.

“No, it never distracts. I mean, it's part of our job and even on Thursday I created even more [by releasing a social media video around a Spanish football transfer phrase ‘things are happening’].

“So I'm enjoying, but you know, I’m 30 years old, I'm focused on the race track. I'm focusing with my team, trying to find the best. On Monday we have an important test and yeah, it's [speculation] part of our job also. But it's OK.”

The other Honda riders finished 21st (Takaaki Nakagami), 22nd (Stefan Bradl) and 23rd (Joan Mir, after penalties) with LCR stand-in Takumi Takahashi not lapping quick enough in practice to make the races.