"Marc could go with and stay with the top riders" - Puig

The Repsol Honda boss believes the eight-time World Champion is demonstrating that he's close to being back to his best

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez admitted himself that Sunday's performance at the Red Bull Ring was his best of 2021. Forget the emotion behind his Sachsenring victory, the eight-time World Champion said fighting at the front with the best MotoGP™ has to offer, at a circuit he's never won at and was struggling physically at prior to race day, was the stand-out performance of his comeback season. And boss Alberto Puig agrees.

The Spaniard crashed out shortly after pitting for wets with heavier rain at Turn 1, and the fact he was the lead rider of the group that had pitted, catching him out. However, despite seeing what would have been a second podium since returning at Portimao slide away, there's an increased feeling of positivity in the Repsol Honda box after a frustrating start to the season.

"Obviously, the final result was not good," started Repsol Honda boss Alberto Puig. "But if we look at Marc's race we can see that even if he had disadvantages, he was able to go with the top riders and stay with them in the dry. That's important for Marc Marquez and also very important for the Repsol Honda Team because we understand that he is returning to his real potential. We are leaving Austria of course missing some of the potential in our RC213V, but we are constantly working to improve. We are not there yet but we are on the way.

"The positive is that Marc could race with top riders for the whole Grand Prix and the negative is his crash at the end of the race. I think his rear tyre choice was a good decision, it was different to normal, but Marc and the team understood what they needed."

However, struggles continue on the opposite side of the Repsol Honda box. Pol Espargaro blamed a communication breakdown between rider and team, which resulted in him pitting with only one lap remaining and eventually finishing behind Marquez despite the 93's Turn 1 crash. Two 16th place finishes and, consequently, no points from the Red Bull Ring double sees the former KTM man finish back-to-back Grand Prix outside of the points for the first time in his MotoGP™ career.

"The understanding between Pol Espargaro and his bike is a negative," says Puig. "He is far away from his potential, and he is missing out on the bike’s potential. He is suffering and we need to work with him to overcome the situation."

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