Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez admits he was pleasantly surprised to kick off his 2023 MotoGP World Championship season with a pole position and podium in the Portimao Sprint Race, even if he believes he will have a harder time in the full length feature event.
After three years of debilitating injuries and lengthy recoveries from multiple surgeries, the Spaniard says he is in his best shape since 2019, when he was at the peak of his dominance en route to an eighth MotoGP World Championship.
However, a new generation of rival has emerged since then, while his Repsol Honda team is still grappling with an inconsistent RC213V package after going the wrong way on development in 2022.
Despite this, Marquez showed flashes of his imperious best with a searing new lap record-breaking effort for pole position on Saturday morning, before taking his chances in the sprint race to end up third at the flag.
“I am very happy because it was an incredible Saturday,” he said. “We worked hard with the team not only to improve the bike, but also my riding style. Still I need to improve but I qualified in a good way, which helped for the race distance.
“I knew in the test that the short race distance would be a strong point, the long distance we will struggle more because we are losing a lot in some areas and recovering in the braking point, but it is not the best way to ride a full race.”
When asked about his fitness, though Marquez admits the Honda isn’t where it needs to be, he says he can now dig deep physically to grind out a good result if he needs to.
“About my physical condition, I feel ready, I feel okay. It was the main difference compared to the last few years,” added the Repsol Honda rider.
“Now, if I’m not able to arrive by talent or by the performance we have, then I can ride in a more physical way and I can take that profit. That means more risk but now I can do it.”