Marc Marquez ‘sandbagging’ in Sepang as huge braking ‘prediction’ is made

Marc Marquez tipped to be Ducati's hardest braker in 2024

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez was ‘sandbagging’ during the preseason Sepang test, claims Simon Crafar.

The Gresini Ducati rider was far more low-key during the three day test than he was in Valencia last year, when he stole the show.

But there are signs from within the paddock that Marquez might have been holding back his true potential on his new bike.

Ex-racer and now MotoGP broadcaster Crafar watched Marquez in Sepang: “He’s not got parts to test because he’s in a satellite team. But he’s getting to know the GP23.

“He’s changing the bike a lot. It’s going up and down.

“He’s exploring, which is what testing is for. He’s getting to know what he likes.

“Something I noticed; the riders that are up the top, they’ll head out on a soft rear, bang, do the time.

“The next run they do? They’ve taken so much life out of it, they’re no longer in the 57s, they’re in the 58s. Then in the 59s.

“Marc hasn’t been doing time attacks, he’s been keeping it in the 58s. He’s doing runs out there, keeping it consistent.

“So, my impression, is that he’s testing. When I go out on track, the only place where he’s aggressive - the Marc we know - is in braking.

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“He looks impressive! I predict he’s going to be the hardest Ducati rider in the braking zone this year.

“Pecco has been, then he’s been threatened by Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini.

“But I think Ducati will have a new braking area champion!

“The rest, he has been doing it smoothly and consistently.

“The last turn, he is going consistently wide. It’s not the sort of thing that an eight-time world champion does.

“That, to me, points to sandbagging a little. Losing time consistently on one corner.

“He knows that he can just go, bang! And the time will go, when he wants it, when he can put the rest together.

“It’s my gut feeling watching.

“It doesn’t mean that I think he’ll win the first race yet. But we haven’t seen what he can really do.

“He’s working hard to make friends with this bike. He’s trying everything with Frankie Carchedi, from positions on the bike to geometry settings.”

Marquez was 14th-fastest on Day 2 of the preseason Sepang, which Crafar was commenting on.

He was ninth on a tricky Day 1 which included technical issues. And sixth on Day 3.

But his sprint simulations caught the eye.

Marquez did 10 laps with an average time of 1m 59.059s. Both Marc and his brother Alex posted faster times than Alex’s winning time in last season’s Sepang sprint race.

Pramac’s Jorge Martin has already claimed Marquez will fight for victory in the season-opening Qatar MotoGP on March 8-10.

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