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MotoGP Portimao: Marquez expecting to suffer over race distance

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez continued his strong return to MotoGP action at Portimao by securing a second row start for Sunday’s Portuguese GP.

Ideal conditions and clear blue skies greeted the paddock as the action resumed for Saturday with times dramatically improving from the patchy, shower-hit opening practices.

A red flag at the end of FP3 - the result of a crash for Jorge Martin - prevented Marquez from reducing his time in the restarted five minute session and the Spaniard was forced to fight for progress in Q1.


Showing off his trademark style as his team gathered race data and continued to assess his physical condition, the final free practice was a particularly fruitful session with 15 laps completed and a ninth-place finish in the session. Come Q1, Marquez was back in attack mode as he hunted one of the two transfer spots. Edging out the competition with a 1’39.253, his fastest lap of the weekend so far, the eight-time world champion secured his place in the top-12. Doing just one run in Q2 at the end of the session, Marquez set the sixth best time, a 1’39.121, to claim a second row start on his MotoGP return.

“Today we put in a lot of effort” Marquez admitted on Saturday evening. “My plan in FP3 was to try to get to Q2, this was the goal today but it wasn’t possible. I really wasn’t expecting to move into Q2 after Q1, but some bike changes to suit my style really helped. The position we are in isn’t real, it’s something amazing but we are realistic and know that the race will be long but we will do what we can and the aim is to finish the race and see what’s possible.

“I feel worse today than yesterday” he continued, honestly. “This is something that already the doctors and the physio expected, it is a natural thing, and they advised me that tomorrow should be worse, but we will see.

“The most important thing is that the bone is good, I don’t have any pain there, but it’s true that the muscles, the fingers, the arm-pump, the elbow, is where I’m struggling more now. Today I pushed, I did my maximum force three times, for FP3, qualifying practice one, qualifying practice two but it is like this, tomorrow we will see for the race.”

Portimao has seen a multitude of crashes in the premier class this weekend, with the younger Marquez crashing in front of his brother during the morning FP3. Reflecting on the incident, the Repsol Honda rider explained:

“Alex’ crash, it was a scary one. It was maybe one of the main reasons why in FP3 I didn’t improve the lap, because he crash in turn three in front of me and after a big crash, doesn’t matter who it is, but after that big high side [it takes your focus] - also I didn’t feel well on the bike, and I say ‘Okay. We finish the lap and we will see in the afternoon if the feeling is better’.

“The confidence on the bike improved a lot, thanks also to the team. We started here with Bradl’s base, Honda’s base, and in FP1, FP2, FP3 I ride with that bike, with those electronics, with everything the same, but then immediately after FP3 I say ‘Okay, now I’m ready to try things’. We already start to change the bike more for my riding style, is not something very big that the other Honda’s are not using, you know, something extreme, but already I adapt the bike to my riding style, to what I need now, and already the step was big in FP4, in terms of feeling of the bike. Then in qualifying practice I was able to be fast. The question mark is tomorrow for the race, 25 laps, will be very, very long. I would say I would try to enjoy but I know that I will not enjoy it. I will suffer, but we already know this, coming here to Portimao.”

Delving further into the changes required to suit his rehabilitation on the Honda, Marquez elaborated: “The main difference is my position on the bike. It’s true that on the left corners I start to feel the front tyre like I like. On the right corners, I’m still pushing a lot, too much on the brakes, because that is where you can play with the front tyre. The position is not the correct one, I cannot load the front and I cannot push with the arm, so this is something that I’m losing a lot. The team also know that now maybe we need to set up the bike in one way, and then when I will be ready to push, we will set up again in another way.

“It’s a lack of muscle power, in the gym I’m working with different weights on the left and right, I cannot have the same weight on the right arm, and then on the bike also, this is something that is there. Nearly all the corners are on the right in this circuit, and at Jerez, but I need to do laps. I know that tomorrow I will suffer but then I will have next week to recover again and Jerez a little bit more.”

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