Cal Crutchlow has praised Marc Marquez’s performance over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend in light of the Spaniard's riding style changes executed to compensate for the Honda RC213V’s acceleration deficiencies.

Around the Red Bull Ring, a venue which saw Marquez struggle badly a year ago when compared to direct competitors Ducati and Yamaha, the reigning world champion has made the overall running, setting an ominous pace on Michelin’s hard rear tyre in FP3, before grabbing pole position ahead of the more fancied Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati.

And Crutchlow pointed to the 24-year old’s ability on corner exit as key to his stunning showing on Saturday as the RC213V’s known acceleration issues of the start of this season appeared to be a thing of the past.

“Normally, if you get the acceleration you stay there. Marc’s been the king of it this weekend. Honestly, how he’s improved since being here last year in acceleration…

“I think it’s a combination of both [improvements to the RC213V and Marquez’s riding]. But he’s riding fantastic in that area. Really, really well. Getting the bike stopped, turned and getting it out. Normally that’s Dani’s [Pedrosa] strong point and he’s murdering Dani.”

Asked whether he believes Marquez can beat Dovizioso on Sunday, Crutchlow continued, “Yeah. I don’t think Jorge’s in it, like it shows in qualifying. He’s riding very well now. A lot better than what he has been. In Brno he was riding really well as well.

“I think it’s between Dovi and Marc at the moment. At the moment. Vale [Valentino Rossi], [Johann] Zarco and [Maverick] Viñales all have a similar pace – Zarco is probably faster than them at the moment. After that, it’s a lottery.”

On how he has changed his set-up and riding style around the Red Bull Ring from a year ago, Marquez pointed toward improved bike balance, and said he is “proud” of his performance over free practice and qualifying.

“Looks like in this race weekend honestly we are not losing on acceleration," he said. "We are same like competitors. We find a very good balance with the bike. For last year, I was losing much more, but I was riding without wings. I was riding with a completely different balance of the bike.

“Looks like this year I am feeling better with the bike, better acceleration. Of course, I’m losing in other points and I’m struggling a little bit, but also I tried to adapt my riding style to the bike. I’m very happy and very proud to be fast on this racetrack.

“Is what I said before. We are on Saturday. We are on pole, but tomorrow is the race and is where we need to be competitive. But anyway, a podium would be a great result. At the moment at least looks like I can fight for the victory too.”



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