Marc Marquez: Wet P1, "stressful" Saturday ahead, Acosta save “a good one!”

New Gresini Ducati rider Marc Marquez quick in the dry and then fastest in the wet during day one of the Qatar MotoGP.

Marc Marquez, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March
Marc Marquez, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March

Marc Marquez overcame some early Honda instincts to make an immediate impact on his first race weekend as a Gresini Ducati MotoGP rider.

The Spaniard set the fourth fastest lap time (+0.177s) in opening Friday practice at Lusail, then made the best of a shock evening shower to set the pace on his wet Desmosedici debut in the second session. 

That would also normally have secured the eight-time world champion direct access to Saturday’s Qualifying 2. 

But the wet track under floodlights scenario had never been attempted in a MotoGP session before. 

When consulted by Race Direction, most riders are understood to have voted in favour of converting the wet session into a free practice, for safety reasons, although the likes of Marquez and Jack Miller are rumoured to have voted against the move.

The change meant Q2 access was moved to an extended Saturday practice, immediately followed by qualifying itself. 

“I was looking for a solid day,” Marquez told “The main target was trying to be in Qualifying 2 straight away, but they changed the schedule and we moved the practice to Saturday.

“[Anyway] I tried for the first time the Ducati bike in wet, in Qatar which was super strange, but the feeling was good and I’m happy.”

Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March
Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March

The revised Saturday schedule means some riders will have to do time attacks for three consecutive sessions (P3, Q1, Q2) in less than an hour.

“It will be a very stressful day,” Marquez said.

Marquez warned on Thursday that, under such pressure, he is still battling to bury his old Honda instincts, which again emerged on day one.

“I went out in FP1 and my instinct when I was with other riders was riding like a Honda,” he explained. “Then I slowed down a bit and I said ‘OK, calm down’. And then in the second run, I start to ride like Ducati.

“And then it was better, but tomorrow also I need to control and it will be not easy. The first target is to try to be in Qualifying 2 but the times are super tight and everything can happen, but the feelings in both dry and wet conditions were good.

“On the dry there are 3 to 4 riders who are quicker than us, but we need to keep working and keep discovering the bike little by little.”

Marc Marquez, Pedro Acosta, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 7 March
Marc Marquez, Pedro Acosta, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 7 March

Among those ahead of Marquez in the dry was a certain Pedro Acosta, the star rookie that Marquez has tipped for race wins and perhaps even a championship challenge his season.

“I said yesterday, Pedro Acosta is a super talented rider. The [KTM] bike, as Binder showed last year, is working in a good way. And he will fight for the victories, with podiums and we will see for the championship.

“But he's a super talented rider and he will have a lot of years of MotoGP success.”

That talent was on display as Acosta produced a Marquez-style save through Turn 1 in the dry opening session.

“That was a good one! Believe me,” said Marquez. 

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