While nearest title rival Valentino Rossi had only 'some small things' to try on his Yamaha at Monday's Catalunya test, with little success, Marc Marquez had a new bike waiting in the Repsol Honda garage.

The Spaniard went on to set the fastest time of the day on his 86th of a massive 88 laps, toppling long-time leader Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) by 0.104s.

"It was an update, it was not a 2019 bike at the moment, but it was different in a few areas and it was quite interesting," Marquez said of the all-black machine, suggesting the modified parts could be introduced this season.

"We start to try different things to understand for the future.

"I feel some positives and some negatives, but I cannot say a lot about it."

But after some prodding from the media, Marquez revealed a little more.



"The best lap time I did with the one that I raced yesterday," he said, referring to the machine he took to second-place behind Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo (absent from the test) in Sunday's race.

"Then we tried different things during the day. The black bike that was another bike, but basically we just tried to make a mix and there were a few new parts which were working quite well.

"But today it was difficult to test new things, because in the midday there was a lot of temperature, difficult to get a good comment, but apart from that, the important thing was that with high temperature, I was able to be fast.

"Honestly it was not my intention to push [for the fastest time]," he added. "I went out on the last run on very used tyres, but then they prepared the second bike with new tyres to try one thing in the electronics.

"They said, 'go out and do two laps, only for the information', but when I saw the new tyres, I thought, 'OK, push a little bit', but it was not planned!"

Back to the black bike and Marquez, presumably instructed by Honda to give away as little as possible, stated the modified machine had a better feeling under braking.

"On braking we improve. We just tried to get a little bit more confidence. It was slightly better there, some negatives [in other areas].

"And then we just tried also a different thing inside of the bike - I cannot say a lot!

"If I want, I can just talk bullshit, but I don't want to. So I don't say a lot about it!" he laughed.

Unable to say exactly what Honda had changed on the bike, Marquez did explain what they were trying to achieve.

"It's something I already said two or three races ago. We want to work to get more contact in the front. Try to understand more, try to get more feeling.

"Because not only me, all the Hondas, when we push a little bit more, we are crashing with the front tyre and we are always using the hard tyre in the races.

"We are focused on that area."

In other words, Honda is trying to give its riders more feedback from the front tyre to lower the level of risk in the braking zone.

"Yes, but when you get more feedback, you are losing in other points. It's a compromise."

Marquez was the only rider to try the black bike on Monday.

Speaking a few hours earlier, LCR's Cal Crutchlow said that he thinks all the RCV riders are still using the frame the Englishman race-developed during the 2016 season.

It certainly wouldn't be a surprise if the black bike featured a new prototype chassis, with Marquez confirming:

"I already said in the pre-season we were focused on the engine area, and then during the season we can improve the chassis area..."

The #93 also quipped: "But in Assen, all my bikes will be in Repsol colours so you will not know if it's the new one or the other one!"

Marquez will take a 27-point lead over Rossi into the Dutch TT weekend.


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