A different year, but the same story for Marc Marquez, as the reigning world champion complained of a lack of acceleration on Friday evening that prevented him from bettering his best time from FP1.

A morning downpour left the 3.3-mile Losail International circuit even shorter on grip than Thursday night, meaning Marquez' encountered excessive spinning on corner exit.

The Honda RC213V was losing half a tenth here and there, but, as he said, that all adds up. At the end of the evening Marquez was admitting that staying with pace setter Maverick Vi?ales for even a short time in the race would represent an achievement.

But rather than focussing on Vi?ales, Marquez's message to Honda and his crew was clear: "we must find a way to finish on the podium."

"There's less grip," he began, after ending FP3 in seventh, and the combined free practice leader board in third, 0.596s off Vi?ales' weekend best.

"Last year with less grip we worked a little bit better, but this year, it looks like with the character of this engine, with less grip in this circuit we are struggling a little bit more because we are losing even more on the acceleration side.

"But OK, we're trying to learn about it, trying to find a way. Of course today we made many setup changes, and tomorrow we must find the best one, put it in and we will see where we are.

"But of course still we have FP4, the qualifying, the warm up to try to do another step.

"On acceleration, it's all related. From the bottom to the top, in the bottom we don't carry the speed, and then on the top you try to open even more aggressively because you don't have the speed, and then it's spinning more. So everything's related."

On whether the length of the main straight was his main hindrance, Marquez explained, "The thing is that more than the straight, for me the thing is the short accelerations.

"Because on the big straight, OK, you lose a bit, but each small acceleration you lose maybe half a tenth, half a tenth, half a tenth. And at the end of the lap, that's a lot of tenths, and it's difficult to recover."

While Vi?ales was able to reel off a succession of times in the mid-1m 55s, Marquez posted just one lap at that pace when in race trim, giving rise to the suspicion he is holding something back.

And while Marquez was keen to stress that Vi?ales has the greatest potential at this moment, he and HRC still have two days to put things right.

"If I can get away with him, it will already be a good result! I don't know. Still, there remain two days. The race is on Sunday, we are on Friday, we must improve, we will see what the conditions are.

"But of course at the moment, it looks like Maverick is a step in front of everybody. But we must find a way to finish on the podium."



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