At this stage of the pre-season, it seems that the problems highlighted by Honda in recent seasons are not being resolved at the moment, at least the impression is this, both for the words and the body language of the riders. Marc Marquez is the rider who has ridden this bike the longest and was logically chosen by the project engineers to carry on development.
“We have a new technical director (Ken Kawauchi, ed), who wants to understand many things at the level of concepts. This makes life very difficult for the riders, I’m the one with the most experience at Honda, so they chose me to do all these experiments. They will have their reasons, I just drove. I hope it’s useful for them”, Marquez summed up at the end of the third day.
The eight-times world champion set the tenth time in 1’58″666 and is the first on a non-Italian bike in the timesheets of the Sepang tests: “We’ve tried many things in all these days, now I hope they analyze all this information and bring something new to Portugal”. In fact, the next and last test of the pre-season will take place there, before everything really starts again.
“You always want more. Honda and the team organized the test very well, apart from this, I have to say that physically I’m very good and this thing made me ride with greater confidence. Now I can decide when to go fast or slow, something that was impossible to do last year. Now I can be very precise with the comments,” the Catalan underlined positively.
Although the bike’s competitiveness does not invite great optimism, Marc has something important to celebrate, namely the recovery of his right arm: “I’m happier with my body than with the bike. There’s only one body; but the bikes, we could have four more in Portugal.”
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: MotoGP
In fact, on Saturday Marquez discarded one of the three bikes he had in the garage, and now it seems they’ve decided on one of the two remaining bikes: “We started with four bikes, the second day we had three. Today we had two, and in the afternoon I stayed with just one. But this isn’t the bike I need to start the world championship, I have to be one step ahead of that bike,” he warned.
“We don’t have time to bring three bikes to Portimao. It was important to take a direction. The one we’ve chosen is very similar to the Valencia tests, with the same problems. And now it’s time to solve these problems, even if I don’t know how” , said the pilot from Cervera.
One curiosity was to see the RC213V without the aerodynamic package, which opens the door to different solutions from Honda: “Obviously it wasn’t my idea to go out without wings. I was told to do it and I did, even though it was time to put the soft tire. Sometimes, as a rider, it’s important to limit your feedback. We need more, but I’ve felt a reaction.”
Marc was asked to describe the bike’s flaws: “We have the same problems as last year. The top speed isn’t bad, but we take too long to reach it, and that’s a traction problem. In Europe, with the straights short, it will be difficult for us. And when braking at high speed we also need to stop the bike better to be more consistent. When braking into the first corner we lost a tenth and a half or two compared to the Ducati”.
Marquez didn’t go looking for a fast lap, in fact he didn’t even put on the soft tires to try to do it: “If you’re realistic, it’s much easier to control your anxiety. In the afternoon everyone put on the soft tyre, it looked like a race timed, and mine (soft tyres) remained in the garage. We need to improve, because we are in the top five but we are very close”.
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