Marc Marquez's first day on track as an eight-time champion ended with the Spaniard in third position, behind a pair of Yamahas, after Friday practice for the Japanese MotoGP.

Full of confidence as he returned to the track after clinching his latest title with a last turn victory over Fabio Quartararo in Thailand, Marquez was soon given a wake-up call from his Repsol Honda.

"It was nice to be back on the bike and I had extra confidence – but immediately on the first lap I had a small [sideways] warning! So it was back to normal and today was not the best day for us, because we miss a few things," said Marquez, who feels there is work to be done for race pace.

"Especially FP2 was not the best practice of the season, but anyway we did a great job. I mean it's not the best circuit for us but we are there, now it's time to work for the rhythm."

With the title pressure gone, Marquez is also using the closing rounds of this season to experiment with the set-up of his RCV.

"We changed the bike balance a little and tried to understand some concepts," he said. "There were some interesting things, so this afternoon I kept going with that different geometry at this circuit.

"We worked in a good way, although it was difficult to understand the tyres and that is where we have the biggest question mark so hopefully the weather will be OK tomorrow."

However heavy rain is forecast for Saturday, followed by a dry Sunday.

Honda is presently 77 points clear of Ducati in the constructors' title and needs an advantage of at least 75-points by the end of the Motegi race to be mathematically out of reach.



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