An old saying says that when you leave the old road for a new one, you know what you are leaving, but not what you’ll find. Then, if the road is nice and smooth and easy to travel, as happens to Marquez with the new Honda, abandoning it is even more difficult.
Maybe HRC put their best offer on the plate for Marc by improving the RC213V over the winter. The times come easy, as does the smile on the Spaniard’s face.
“I always say the same thing. Honda is the manufacturer that gave me the chance to get here and it is the first option, but you always have to listen to everyone - the champion responds when asked about his future - I wanted to wait until these winter tests. I am happy about how things are going, but above all, about the work method. Some changes arrived that improved the bike. I think the Japanese engineers are very responsive, but until the first race, we won’t really know what our level is.”
Have you set a signing deadline for yourself?
“I have already begun speaking with Honda. If I am able to conclude the contract issue soon, it will be better because it means one less concern in my mind and being able to concentrate just on riding the bike, and that is what I need to do.”
Everything is proceeding to perfection this winter…
“I am very happy today. We took another small step forward. If we look at the standings, I was slower than yesterday, but I did not do a time attack this time. The long run went every well and with the most critical tyre we have, which seems like it will be the one used in the race. To be honest, you always want more, but I’ll give myself an 8 and a half in this test, because we worked well.”
It was a Honda domination…
“Dani is first, I’m among the best and so is Crutchlow. Then there is Zarco and it is a bit strange that his is the Yamaha up front. Then there are the Ducatis and I think that Dovizioso is not showing his full potential.”
“It’s strange. He was fast in Malaysia and here he struggled more, but in Qatar he will be strong again.”
You, on the other hand, were competitive like in Sepang.
“The bike worked well both here and in Malaysia, but the character of the bike is something we need to improve. We mustn’t forget that we tested with very high temperatures. The Qatar night will be cooler and we’ll understand better. In some areas, it is still too aggressive, but HRC is working very quickly this winter and I am feeling a better atmosphere.”
Is the bike already better than the one at the end of 2017?
“Yes. In terms of chassis architecture, not much has changed, although it is better going into corners, but especially the new engine is faster and that makes everything easier.”
Are you at the levels of winter 2014, when you then won the first 10 races?
“That time went better. During those tests, halfway through the day I had always finished my work already and gone to the hotel. This year we are continuing to improve, but it is not that simple. Yesterday I turned more than 90 laps and the same today. We are doing a lot of work and I did the longest race simulation of anyone, but also the fastest.”
For next year there is talk of reducing the winter tests to just two. What do you think of that?
“Two tests of two days each for me are more than enough (laughing) I like to test because I like to ride, but I much prefer the races. If I had to choose, I would prefer doing 20 races and fewer tests. All joking aside, two days of testing on a circuit are enough. I would already feel ready to begin the season right now.”
One final curiosity: how do you like the carbon swingarm?
“It’s different. We need to collect data. It is a change for Honda and there are pros and cons, but we’ll have to test it on other circuits. It seems that the grip is slightly better, but at the same time, with used tyres, the rear end moves around more.”