Marc Marquez refused to be too disheartened by his late exit from the French MotoGP, insisting he was just happy to be fighting it out for a podium on his return to action at Le Mans.
The Spaniard was back competing on the Repsol Honda in France for the first time since sustaining a hand injury in the opening round at Portimao in March.
While he came into the weekend with modest expectations in consideration of both his injury and the erratic competitiveness shown by other riders on the Honda RC213V in his absence, Marquez quickly proved he remains among today’s elite competitors.
Spending the weekend swapping between his regular RC213V and a revised version using a new frame designed by Kalex, though Marquez got his weekend off to a spectacular start with a damaging crash in P1, he went on to qualify for both races in second.
Finishing fifth in the Sprint Race after a bright start, Marquez was in the thick of the action in the feature race, leading initially and never straying outside of the podium positions as others around him hit problems in a race of high attrition.
Spending the lattermost laps duking it out for second with Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin, despite at times looking to be on the limit of the RC213V package, it appeared Marquez was destined to end the weekend with a podium.
However, just as Martin got the move done on Marquez into Turn 7 on the penultimate lap, the front-end gave way and the six-time MotoGP champ was sent skidding into the gravel trap and out of the race.
Despite the disappointing conclusion, a smiling Marquez insists he was simply pleased to be up at the front fighting again regardless of the final result.
“I enjoyed it a lot. It was one of my better races, a long time ago. It’s true that I crashed, but I enjoyed it a lot, I was riding well and felt well with the bike.
“We were losing in the straights, top speed, acceleration, in the traction area… but we were riding in a very good way. This was very, very important.
“It’s a shame that, in the end, after all that work we didn’t receive a good result. But we showed to everybody that we are there. Now it’s time to analyse, to keep working, and to be better in Mugello.”
I’m happy. It’s true that I would like to finish the race.But with the tools we have, it’s difficult, for the moment, to fight for those positions. I saw that I was able to do it, but not in the best way.
We have to fight in that position with less risk. So we have to work together with the team.”
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