After getting his first run out on his RC213V since his shoulder operation at the Sepang Test, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) confirmed that he’s taken a “huge step” forward in terms of his physical condition on Day 1 at the Qatar Test.
The reigning World Champion stopped early on all three days in Malaysia but two weeks later, he’s feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike, despite suffering a small crash and finishing the day in P10, 1.116 of Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP): “Honestly I’m happy. About the physical condition I’m happy because compared to the Malaysian test, we’ve done a huge step.
“Of course in some areas I still feel some pain but the power is there. So this is important, and there is still two weeks until the first race so yeah, I’m happy because it’s coming better and I’m able to ride in my normal style.”
This is, of course, good news for the seven-time Champion as the opening round of the 2019 season edges closer. However, the Losail International Circuit is a track Honda have notoriously struggled at in the past and it seems Marquez is yet to find the setup he feels he needs ahead of Round 1 of the year.
“It was difficult, especially at the beginning, but now at the end the grip was coming better and better,” explained the number 93, discussing the track conditions in Qatar. “Honestly speaking we had some issues on the setup and we need to work there. We need to understand because the Ducati and Yamaha riders are far from us but it is true that at this circuit we struggle. It’s true that we have two days more and we need to work in a different way to be closer to them.
“Still we need to work. We need to understand many things, of course we start here with the setup, it looks like it’s not working here but we didn’t have time to change because as we know it’s only three for the correct time to test. So we didn’t have time to change everything, now it’s time to analyse everything and start with a different setup.”
Unlike in Sepang, Marquez was joined by teammate Jorge Lorenzo in Qatar as we got to see the number 99 in Repsol Honda colours for the first time.
It was an understandably tentative first day for the five-time World Champion as he returned to action after undergoing a scaphoid operation at the end of January. Can both Marquez and Lorenzo continue to improve on Day 2 in Qatar?
Follow the day with Live Timing, with another live After the Flag episode coming your way at 21:30 local time (GMT +3).