Marc Marquez says there is a marked improvement over the performance of his Repsol Honda at the Red Bull Ring compared to 2016.

The reigning MotoGP World Championship leader is much happier with the acceleration of the RC213V, although braking stability is one area where he hopes to improve on Saturday.

Marquez lapped in 1m 24.649s as he finished sixth fastest in FP2, 0.6s back on Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

“At the moment I’m quite happy because we are much closer than last year and I started with a completely different base set-up from last year and we start with something from Brno that we tried on Monday, that was working quite good,” he said.

“We took a risk because we know that the weather was unstable, but anyway the pace was good and I was riding well. This afternoon also the pace was not so bad and I was feeling comfortable with the bike to try a few different set-ups.

“We worked for the race pace and at the moment it looks like we are much closer than last year. We are accelerating much better at the moment because the bike balance is a little bit different and we are not losing a lot on acceleration.”

The reigning world champion expects his major rivals to improve further on Saturday, when he intends to focus on making gains under heavy braking.

“I think that the other manufacturers will improve and also we will try to improve to be closer and faster. One of the things is braking and stability and we are trying to manage now because we are losing a little bit there; we gain in acceleration but we are losing in the braking, so we must find the correct balance,” said Marquez, who is using the new carbon front forks in Spielberg.

“I’m using the carbon front forks and honestly not a very big difference but we gain a little bit some weight and with Honda we are working there because we are a little bit high on the weight limit. Basically for the rest I don’t feel a big difference.”

Marquez, who won handsomely at Brno last weekend after pitting early in the flag-to-flag race, once again stressed that he did not deliberately drop back on lap two to hide his entry into pit lane from his main opposition.

“I heard about that and somebody bragged but in the end I pushed the first lap and tried to be there but the rear tyre was too soft.

“Maybe I drop three or four positions to the top guys but I dropped 12 positions and you never can never drop 12 positions – I was struggling a lot and I was the only one that started with the soft one. The first lap was not so bad but then I overheated and I was losing a lot on the straights.”

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