After watching Ducati’s GP18 occupy three of the top four places in MotoGP FP2 at the Sachsenring, championship leader Marc Marquez now feels it is no longer a surprise to see the Bologna factory performing well… even at tracks at which it used to struggle.

Marquez could place no higher than fifth on Friday afternoon, but comfortably led the way in terms of race pace, his eight-lap run at the beginning of FP2 (all but one of which was in the mid-low 1m 21s) suggesting he was playing his potential down when stating the 2018 RC213V has lost “some performance” here.

Still, the 25-year old feels Ducati’s attacking trident of Jorge Lorenzo (first), Danilo Petrucci (second) and Andrea Dovizioso (third) could pose some problems on Sunday as he attempts to extend his winning run around the German track beyond eight years.

“Especially Ducati is the manufacturer that improved most on this racetrack,” said Marquez. “It’s what I said a few races ago: Ducati is strong everywhere. They will be very fast. A little bit it’s what I said yesterday. With this Honda our strong points are a little bit less and our weak points are a little bit better.

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“We have a really constant bike but at this race track in the past, it was really strong in a few areas, like we saw today Nakagami is riding with the old bike and he’s very, very fast. But with this bike we’re maybe losing some performance.

“We need to understand the championship is 19 races. I will try to win on Sunday. If it’s not possible to win we need to understand we have a 41-point advantage in the championship and that’s the most important.”

On the day as a whole, Marquez said, “Of course today was a good day because from the beginning I felt good with the bike. Then we started to work for the race, like every Friday. Just I concentrate on the used tyres and try to understand the drop of the tyres. We can say it was a good day.

“This afternoon we did a small improvement and we are working on that, trying to improve a few things on the bike. On the other hand, I think this weekend everything will be very, very tight. It looks like we will have good weather for all the practice and then everyone will be able to find the best set-up for their bike. It will be tough.

“We just concentrated on the race pace on Friday, like always. This morning I did all the session with the same tyre – a soft rear. This afternoon I did all the session with medium rear. It looks like for trying to understand how it drops. Then I tried the hard front but it was what we planned. We didn’t put the soft new in the end. For that reason we didn’t improve in the last laps, but it was what we planned because our priorities were another one.”

So where can he hone his race set-up? “You know, we need to improve the way to slide with the rear. In this racetrack one of my strong points is the way we slide with the rear and turning the bike and trying to have that feeling. At the moment I don’t have it. It’s one of the points that maybe with this engine we are losing but I hope that tomorrow we can improve in that area.”

Marquez and Repsol Honda tested at Brno between the Dutch Grand Prix and here, giving the six-time world champion the chance to re-try some new parts HRC brought to the one-day outing at the Circuit of Catalunya in mid-June.

Those parts and did not find their way onto his RC213V on Friday, but Marquez revealed he may sample new components on Saturday after concluding they were “very, very positive” in his Czech outing.

“We tried a few things,” he explained. “More than new parts, it was like a new set-up on the electronics side and a few things. At the moment, I haven’t introduced but tomorrow I will introduce a few of these parts tomorrow. It was very, very positive in Brno. We will see here if they are working better or worse. Sometimes from one racetrack to another one it’s really different.”

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