In this case, the stopwatch counts up to a certain point, since there are many other priorities involved. Marc Marquez ended his Friday in Sepang with an eleventh position behind Rossi, but his health conditions seem to smile down on the rider from Cervera.
"Today I can say that I felt much better than yesterday," he stated. "We have completed all the necessary work, and I'm happy about it. We've also been able to try different things, and I'm enthusiastic about the material, aware that there is still some work to be done. Having said this, we're on the right track."
What is your situation on a physical level?
"I'm still far from being 100% in shape, but I'm happy. Wednesday was a complicated day for my shoulder. Yesterday, even more so, but today it was much better. Unfortunately, I have not been riding with my usual riding style, but I managed to be fast and steady and at the right pace. All this makes me excited, especially for the team, and also when it comes to Qatar. This test was strange for me, also because I didn't work on the bike's distribution but mostly on the new material. So, I hope to perform a regular test in Losail."
Were you surprised in seeing so many Ducati in front of you, including young riders like Miller and Bagnaia?
"It's difficult to assess given that the track was simple today, and we never encounter these conditions during the season. It never rained, and the tires allowed us to push even further."
You have repeatedly emphasized the psychological component. How important is it?
"The mental component influences you a lot, especially when you see others remain on the track and you have to finish before them because of your health problems. Having said that, I hope to get back into shape for the first race, knowing that my performance will especially depend on how the other riders will forge ahead."
It's your birthday in a few days, and also Rossi's, who will be blowing out 40 candles.
"I think what Valentino is doing here at Sepang is something to be admired. The temperature reaches 35 degrees. It's really hot. However, he still works hard and manages to be as fast as the best. I hope to be motivated like he is when I'm 40 but, above all, to be among the riders fighting for the title."
Let's go back to the tests. What's your opinion on the engine?
"We have to evaluate many things, including the opinions of the other riders. We’re not in a hurry to make a decision now, also because we still have the Qatar test, and, consequently, the important thing is to have a clear picture. In these conditions, it's not easy to follow a certain path, since we don't have these conditions during the season."
One aspect that stands out compared to the past is that Honda has always been on the right track the last two years.
"We've always managed to find a solid foundation the last two years. This time, we followed the same strategy, trying to improve and progress further in Qatar. The situation is the same as always, since we have different material to work on."
What's your opinion regarding Friday?
"Today I tried out the new fairing," he recalled. "But we also focused on the electronics. I've tried out several things these days, and it's not easy for a rider because when you get on the track it's like having a new bike every time."
You ride a lot on your front wheel. How did you handle this?
"We're also working on this but not here in Sepang. This is not the right moment, since I can't ride with my usual riding style because of my current health conditions. Like I said, I had to approach everything in a different way during these tests. It was not easy to focus exclusively on the bike, but I'm enthusiastic."
You also attempted a short race simulation.
"I rode only six laps, but my pace was good. When exiting the curve, I feel competitive, but I've seen that there are other very fast riders."