Marc Marquez 14th to 2nd: “Even without one wing I was riding well”

Marc Marquez: “Aleix is one extreme, Pedro another and I’m a bit in the middle.”

Marc Marquez, 2024 Catalan MotoGP Sprint
Marc Marquez, 2024 Catalan MotoGP Sprint

Marc Marquez went one better than Le Mans by turning a lowly 14th-place start into second place in the Catalan MotoGP Sprint.

And he did it despite losing one winglet during early contact with Jack Miller.

Like Aprilia race winner Aleix Espargaro, Marquez benefitted from mistakes ahead with Raul Fernandez, Brad Binder and then - on the final lap - Francesco Bagnaia all crashing out the lead.

But it was still a remarkable turnaround for a rider who was outside the top ten on Friday, then didn't get past Qualifying 1 as he struggled for speed on new rubber.

“We changed the bike set-up quite a lot,” Marquez explained. “It’s one of the good things to have fast Ducati riders inside the group. Sometimes they analyse and go in my direction. This time we analysed where we were, and where they are.

“We went in that direction and I started to feel better.

“The problem with Q1 was it was the first time with that bike [set-up] which was very different. But in the race pace I kept going and understood how to ride that bike. 

"It was a big change and it was too late because tomorrow we start 14th, but it will be with the medium [rather than soft] rear tyre so we will see how we can manage.”

Marc Marquez, Pedro Acosta, 2024 Catalan MotoGP Sprint
Marc Marquez, Pedro Acosta, 2024 Catalan MotoGP Sprint

Marquez will also hope to keep all of his wings intact.

“Today will be an interesting analysis for Gigi and his team [because] even without one wing I was riding well!” Marquez smiled.

“It’s true the bike balance was different but one of my strong points is adapting to the situation. Still, I have margin to improve on the fast lap. But on race pace I’m very close to Martin and Bagnaia.”

The #93’s time-attack woes were illustrated when he couldn’t progress past Qualifying 1 despite younger brother and Gresini team-mate Alex offering a tow.

“My difference between used tyres and new tyres is smaller than the others,” he said. “Today in Q1 the same. I followed Alex. Yesterday he said if you want to follow me in Q1, follow me because I don’t have anything to lose.

“He said if you pass into Q2 it will be more important for the team. But even like this we weren’t able to pass.”

Marquez clinched the runner-up spot i the Sprint, just 0.892s behind Espargaro, with a last-lap pass on rookie star Pedro Acosta.

“He’s riding very differently. Aleix is one extreme, Pedro another and I’m a bit in the middle,” Marquez revealed. “His corner speed and entry was super fast. It was very impressive.

“I don’t know how much risk he was taking because he’s super fast in that area but he’s playing a lot with his body. He was fast in a circuit when if you’re with that riding style, you struggle.

“But he was carrying a lot the speed and it was impressive. I tried to copy him some laps but I saw too many risks so I went again with my style.”

Marquez goes into Sunday’s full length grand prix as Martin’s nearest world championship rival, albeit some 37 points behind the Pramac Ducati rider, who qualified seventh and crossed the line fourth on Saturday. 

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