Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez is back at full fitness as MotoGP’s opening round of 2023 kicks off at Portimao this weekend.
After a challenging couple of years battling multiple surgeries, recovering strength and an unrewarding RC213V, Marquez is hoping the tide is ready to turn back in his favour this season. Albeit with the most demanding calendar and schedule the Grand Prix Championship has known.
“In the end we are a team, we win together, we lose together,” Marquez said, reflecting on his recent stint with the Japanese manufacturer he’s spent the entirety of his premier class career with. “Is true that the last three years has been really tough for me, has been really tough for Honda, and we are not coming from the best situation. For that reason we are not the title contenders right now, today, Thursday in Portimao.
“We need to keep working and building that project and try to be more competitive in the future but my ambition is the same as 2013. I’m here to try to fight for the top positions.
“I will do what I have in my hands to fight for that top positions and I believe,” he continued. “I believe in the project, I believe in Honda and the championship is very long. From one day to the other day might change the situation as we see last year with Pecco [Bagnaia]. I mean he start not so good, he had many problems on the preseason but then from one race to the other one he start with a good level and he win many races in a row.”
While the Spaniard’s recovery has been a frequent headline, his Repsol squad has made many of its own. Namely with the arrival of Technical Director Ken Kawachi, from the now-disbanded Suzuki squad.
“It was a really busy winter,” Marquez explained. “We change the Technical Director, then arrive into the box new ideas. We were just working, maybe sometimes on concept things and the only day that I was working myself with the proper bike was the last day in Portimao.
“Right now, especially here in Portimao, we cannot think about podium, we cannot think about victory, but in the end a championship is really long and we are working hard.
“I need to improve myself,” he admitted. “Honda is working. The team is working. The last day in Portimao was not bad, we were coming closer and closer in the race pace. In single laps still we are very far, especially to Ducati riders but let’s see. Let’s see how is the race weekend but especially how will be the next races. The first three or four races immediately you understand if you are able to fight for the top positions or you need to be working to be closer.
“It’s obvious that Ducati right now have a really strong package, all Ducati riders, but in this case Pecco was the fastest one inside of that group and inside of all the grid. So we are far from them, but we are even more far from Pecco, he was incredible fast in the preseason. Still we are working. We’re working on our garage, we’re working on the bike to try to be better in some areas that basically is the same as last year.
“Engine is close, in engine area we cannot work anymore, so we need to keep investigating other areas to be more competitive, especially in a single lap. This year the qualifying practice will be very, very important because with that position, you will have two race starts. So will be crucial.”