Marc Marquez declared himself to be “ready” to start the 2018 MotoGP season after a highly successful showing across the three-day test in Thailand that will likely serve as an ominous warning of his potential for the year ahead.

The six-time world champion may have lost out on the fastest time to team-mate Dani Pedrosa, but his pace was unequalled, leading him to look ahead to Qatar in two weeks, and attempt to play down the positives.

Fourth fastest on Sunday and third overall after neglecting a ‘time attack’, Marquez was able to definitively decide on Honda’s engine choice for the season ahead, and continue testing a new carbon swingarm, which he believes has some benefits.

“Since Valencia we were using,” he joked when asked about the component. “It’s different. We are trying to analyse it. Since Valencia we are using back-to-back because in the end it’s a new experience for Honda. [HRC] Never tried it.

“[There are] Some positives, some negatives. We are trying it at a different circuit just a few times, not all the day, because we are able to compare well and decide well for the future because we are not 100 percent sure.”

Pressed on the new swingarms strengths, Marquez was again full of cheer: “I will keep for me,” he quipped. “It’s shaking a little bit more, the bike. Looks like the grip is a little bit better but then with the used tyre it’s shaking too much. We need to find a way.”

His speed at Valencia, Sepang and the Chang International Circuit caused certain members of the press core to suggest he was well positioned to repeat his dizzying feats of 2014, when he stole an early march on the rest and romped to ten straight victories.

Could he repeat the feat? “At the moment, no,” he said. “If you check the 2014 preseason I remember on the last in Malaysia I finish at one or two o’clock, packed up and go to the hotel because everything was fine.

“But this year we saw that we’re coming more and more competitive but it’s not easy. We did 97 laps yesterday and 96 today. Every time we work a lot. We did the longest long run between riders, and also the fastest one.

“I’m feeling good with the bike. Today we improved. Of course, if you see the lap time you’d say, ‘You’re slower than yesterday’ but we didn’t make a time attack. We just kept riding to try to learn and understand the fairing and different things. Now we wait for Qatar because it’ll be a circuit that we struggle at more than this one.”

Where does he feel the new bike is stronger than the ’17 model with which he finished the season last November? “It’s better,” came the response. “I mean, in the chassis area, it’s more or less the same.

“We didn’t gain a lot. In some areas it’s slightly better in corner entry. We found something there that is helping me stopping the bike. And especially the engine is faster. This makes everything easier to go for the lap time.”

And one what is still missing, Marquez added, “Of course here and Malaysia it was working well, but I repeat the same: engine character is still something we need to improve. We can’t forget that we’re in a very warm circuit. OK, Qatar is warm but at night it’s quite cold.

“We will see there how is the character of the engine, because in some areas it’s too aggressive. Anyway we are working on that area. The good thing, and what makes me more happy, is the factory is working really quick. This year I feel like the atmosphere is different and this is something really positive.”

So he feels ready? “Yeah. I feel ready. We are working. Of course a few tests more and you feel ready. Of course we’ll be in Qatar and maybe on the last day I’ll complain about something but every circuit is different.

“In two days it’s enough. Yesterday everyone had a good shape, but Qatar will be interesting to see where we are because it’s one of the circuits where we struggle more.”


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