Luca Marini “struggling" but "don’t try to transform Honda into Ducati, not the correct way”

Luca Marini wants the Honda to retain its own characteristics rather than trying to mimic the Ducati.

Luca Marini, Sepang MotoGP test, 7 February
Luca Marini, Sepang MotoGP test, 7 February

Luca Marini does not want Honda engineers to try and “transform” his bike into a Ducati despite “struggling” with some of the RC213V's long-running issues, including a lack of rear grip during, during the Sepang test.

Marini completed the opening pre-season MotoGP test 18th-fastest with new team-mate Joan Mir ahead in ninth.

He is a factory rider for the first time after swapping VR46 Ducati for Repsol Honda and, although being highly-touted for his analytical approach to development, admits he cannot yet get to grips with some characteristics of his new bike.

Marini explained on Thursday why the Ducatis excel so much during time attacks, including sweeping the top four places at the Sepang test:

“In general, it was easy to do the time attack [at Ducati] because we just pushed more in braking, and the bike stopped better because the rear tyre was new. [The rear grip] helped to stop the bike.

“Ducati use it well, they use the rear tyre better than Honda, in my opinion, in this moment.

“We have to improve in that area.

“With new tyres you want to try to brake later but it’s difficult. I am struggling to stop the bike.

“For me, this is the most difficult part - the last part of the entry, the turning is missing for me, on my set-up.

“We need to improve. Joan is faster and stronger, especially in this part.”

But would he ask Honda engineers to develop a bike like the Ducati that he left behind?

“I don’t think this is the correct way,” Marini insisted.

“The DNA of every bike must stay the same, to use its strong points.

“Honda has very good points. We need to work on it. Not just to transform the bike into a Ducati.

“This is not the correct way.”

What strong points does the Honda possess?

Marini kept his cards close to his chest, replying: “There are many!”

Luca Marini, Sepang MotoGP test, 8 February
Luca Marini, Sepang MotoGP test, 8 February

Honda and Yamaha riders were permitted to take part in the shakedown test, before the three-day official test, as part of the new concessions rules.

So Marini has enjoyed more time on track than most of his rivals in Honda’s bid to restore themselves to the front of MotoGP.

Marini reflected: “I think that there are many positive things about this test, especially the three days with other riders.

“It is more clear to understand our potential.

“For the time attack, Joan Mir did an amazing lap.

“It’s clear that he knows the bike very well, and how to push with new tyres.

“I struggled when I tried. It’s different to the Ducati when you need to push a lot.

“There is a lot of margin to improve.

“With the setting of the bike, we tried something with the wheel-base and the balance in general.

“We are going in a good direction and Qatar will be interesting because we will have more parts to try.

“Also, that test is more critical for the race weekend with more focus on lap time.”

Marini’s feedback on the Honda’s competitiveness with used tyres: “Today, better. Yesterday I made more laps in a row. Today, with used tyres, I was obviously faster.

“But everyone was faster today because the track is better.

“The gap between me and the others, today, was a little less with used tyres. So I’m happy.

“We improved the exit of the corners, how the bike turns when it has gas.

“This was really positive. It helped me a lot.

“But, on the last part of the entry, we have a lot of margin to improve.”

A two-day Qatar test is the final opportunity for MotoGP riders and teams to add the finishing touches to their bikes before the season begins, in the same location, on March 8-10.

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