What is stopping Marc Marquez from being a serious title contender?

Over the weekend, the eight-time World Champion and his crew chief Frankie Carchedi explained the big weakness currently holding him back

Marc Marquez seems like a rider reborn in 2024. The eight-time World Champion just secured his third Sunday podium on the trot, has collected four Tissot Sprint top three finishes and sits third in the Championship only 41 points behind Jorge Martin (Prima Pramarc Racing). In both the French and Catalan Grands Prix, the Gresini rider fought back from the fifth row to get himself onto the box during both weekends in hugely impressive performances.

MotoGP™, Race, Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya
MotoGP™, Race, Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya

While the eight-time World Champion hasn't yet reached the heights of his title-winning days, this season marks the first time since his horrific injury in 2020 that we've seen him competitive at every round. However, despite strong results and his position in the Championship, Marquez feels he isn’t a Championship contender. Why?

“Qualifying!”

Both Marquez and his Crew Chief Frankie Carchedi have pinpointed his pre-race form as the #93’s major weakness this season. Since joining Ducati’s ranks, Marquez has placed P6, P8, P3, P1, P13 and P14 on the grid. After securing pole in Jerez, he has failed to make it into Q2 in either of the following two rounds. Carchedi took to social media to explain the sudden downturn in qualifying form, stating that trying to balance a race simulation in Practice and a strong time attack with a lack of data is no easy task.

For Marquez, he has claimed that new tyres are proving problematic, thwarting his qualifying efforts, while the difference between the Honda and Ducati on corner entry is playing a part: “One of my strong points is going in. When I put on a new tyre, that going in, I cannot do it because the rear is pushing more to the front. So we need to understand the setup we are using. We need to understand all these things to take advantage of the tyre. With Honda, I was used to riding like this for 10 years, especially on the fast lap. Go in and then you will go out. But with this bike, it is a bit different.”

“In Le Mans and Catalunya, when it’s new tyres, I was struggling. I was already struggling in preseason. It looked like I was able to compensate during the first few races but now it looks like I’m struggling again with these tyres. We need to work very deeply on this. If we start on the first two or three rows, it’s another race. When you start 14th though, you are penalised with strategy. At the moment, we’re able to rescue things, but there is too much risk.”

Indeed, starting P14 on the grid still couldn’t stop Marquez from taking a double podium in Barcelona, but he admitted afterwards it isn’t sustainable should he wish to fight for Championship honours.

“If I want to push for the title, I need to start on the first two rows. This is one of the targets, but it's true they (Martin and Bagnaia) have something more. I have something at some racetracks, but they are fast at every racetrack. So we need to understand this. We cannot struggle on Fridays, we cannot struggle in Q1. As I said, to be only 40 points, 41, behind the top guy after six races, if you said this to me before the start of the season I would say, ‘Where do I need to sign? I’ll sign. I’ll sign to finish inside the top three at the end of the championship because, for me, it would be an amazing season.'”

The eight-time World Champion may be playing down expectations for now, but his position in the standings doesn’t lie. He sits third behind Martin and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) six rounds into the campaign, while on track he has proven a thorn in the side of both. Ex-MotoGP™ rider and our pitlane reporter Simon Crafar stated that he would prove big trouble for those two should he improve qualifying, while Marquez himself admits that’s what he simply must do if he is to maintain a Championship push.  

“Of course, we are contenders. Why? Because we are third in the Championship after six races already, but we are third and it is our real position because there are two guys that are a bit faster. If we want to fight with them, we need to improve the qualifying practice.”

Next up for Marquez and the rest of the grid is a trip to the rolling green hills of Mugello for the Brembo Grand Prix of Italy. Make sure you join us then!

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