Marc Marquez questioned about sandbagging at Qatar MotoGP test

Is Marc Marquez withholding his true potential at the Qatar MotoGP preseason test?

Marc Marquez, Qatar MotoGP test, 19 February
Marc Marquez, Qatar MotoGP test, 19 February

Marc Marquez has denied that he is sandbagging at the preseason MotoGP test in Qatar.

Marquez was 16th-fastest on Monday, the first of two days testing in Qatar.

He was +0.919s behind leader Francesco Bagnaia, while Jorge Martin was second.

Some within the MotoGP paddock have wondered if the new Gresini Ducati rider is intentionally holding back his true performance until the first race of the 2024 season.

Marquez was asked, after Monday at the Qatar test, if he is withholding some of his competitiveness.

“No. Of course I am pushing,” Marquez said, shrugging.

“Everybody is pushing in the test.

“But I need to understand a few things.

“[Tuesday] is an important day to understand the pace that we will have for the season.

“Of course, in the season you can adapt.

“It was not bad. It was good, especially in the last part of the day.

“As in Malaysia, I started to feel better and better.

“[Tuesday] will be the time to do more laps. The track conditions will be better.

“We can work from the beginning.”

Marc Marquez, Qatar MotoGP test, 19 February
Marc Marquez, Qatar MotoGP test, 19 February

Marquez was sixth in a sprint simulation on Monday, an area where he also caught the eye during the preseason Sepang test.

But it was noticeable that the final timesheet showed Marquez as the slowest Ducati, except for test rider Michele Pirro.

He summarised his Monday: “Today I feel better. I went out, I played more with the bike.

“I was sliding on entry, this is my style.

“Let’s see if on [Tuesday] I can take another step.

“It’s true that Bagnaia and Martin are faster than all the Ducatis.

“Then, there is a group. We need to understand how to ride, especially in a few corners where we were losing too much.”

Marquez will ride a GP23 Ducati this year, while title rivals Bagnaia and Martin hop onto the newer bike.

The eight-time world champion has been busy setting up last season’s title-winning machine to his own liking.

Marquez said about his bike: “Yeah, not bad. It’s working well, the bike, in Qatar.

“It’s different from what I remember in October.

“It’s true that we are working in a good way, we did a few steps, especially in the end.

“I can’t wait til [Tuesday] to keep riding and to learn more and more.”

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