Newly crowned 2018 MotoGP World Champion has predicted Factory Suzuki Ecstar rider Andrea Iannone as the man to beat in tomorrows Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Despite qualifying in pole position with a 1:29.199, 0.513 seconds clear and one row ahead of Andrea Iannone, who topped the combined free practice times, Marquez said that the Italian is the man to beat come race day.
“For some reason, all Honda’s struggling at the start here,” said the 25-year-old.
“But then step-by-step we did a really good job with the team, with all Japanese stuff and step-by-step we improve our feeling and now looks like I am equal on race pace with all the others, apart from Iannone who is faster than everybody.
“But tomorrow in the race we will see, it will be interesting to check and to find the best rear tyre. Apart from that, here in Phillip Island normally, it’s quite a long, difficult race.
“You need to control the temperature of the tyres, especially the front one and we will try to manage in a good way and fight for the podium.”
The qualifying session had rain scares throughout, and whilst the rain was never really serious enough to force riders to change onto wet tyres, the drops on Marquez’ visor did give the Spaniard slight pause for thought.
“It was so difficult to understand the way to push with the bike,” he said.
“Here we are riding over 200kph nearly the whole lap, so its scary when you see some drops on your visor.
“But I tried to find a good lap on the first run, and then I see that a 29.1 was already a really fast lap. On the second tyre, I felt not so bad out of the box, but then I see another small drop, it was raining a little bit. So I said I will not take the risk. We will see if somebody improves, they improve.
“Tomorrow is the race and next week we have another one and during this weekend we’ve seen many, many crashes and here it’s easy to get injured.”
This weekend has seen many riders say they would like to have the race time either moved earlier, or ideally have the race at a different time of year, with the event always in early spring in Australia.
Marquez said the race time change would help but doesn’t think it would make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, and that the safety commission focused on other things that need changing.
“It would maybe better on the race time, but the amount of crashes I think would be very similar,” said Marquez.
“The thing is, here we are riding very fast, it’s cold and then everything becomes more stiff. All the tyres and all the reactions of the bikes are more aggressive, so for that reason we have a lot of crashes.
“We can change the time schedule, just advance one hour, maybe improve a little bit but not change our life.
“We speak about this but also other safety issues on this track that is more important to push. For example move the natural grass in some areas.”