The first day of practice at Sepang has concluded, and Marc Marquez has once again found himself under the magnifying glass.
The first reason is technical, or rather his use of a left lever for the rear brake. Honda began using the 'thumb' rear brake following Doohan's incident.
“This morning both bikes were standard - he explains- then in the afternoon both had the modification. I've already tried this solution in the past and liked it, but now we've modified it slightly. I need it when at full lean, I'm trying to be quicker through right-hand turns, but for now it's just a first approach”.
A solution that Marc hopes to use in the future, but one that needs more development. “i'd like to continue using it because the lever makes the job easier, not the thumb lever because I like to have the lever in my hand, as I got used to using the clutch in MX, but I still need to understand if it can give me a real advantage”.
The season reason is his umpteenth 'miracle' save, carried out masterfully during the opening stages of FP1.
“It was only the second lap of the weekend. I liked watching it back, especially in slow motion but it also helped me understand where to pay more attention. I started out with same setting and style as Phillip Island, and then immediately altered it. The interesting thing is that I touched the asphalt with the footped, you usually crash when you touch like that”.
What is certain is that Marc has achieved another goal this year, crashing less.
“Since 2017 I've been trying to limit my crashes. Last year it wasn't possible but this year it has been, also because I'm riding in a different race. I can push less hard on corner entry and exit quicker, but I need to improve further because I've crashed less but there have been a number of saves”.
As for the day's performance, #93 lies sixth in the combined standings.
“If we look at the FP2 result, it looks like I'm far back, but I didn't put in the fresh tyre for the time attack. I'm in a good place in terms of pace, and think I'm only second to Vinales: in terms of the flying lap, Fabio and the Yamahas are quicker than me, and that's been the case for a few races already. They have good grip and so it won't be easy for me in qualifying, but I'm working well in preparation for the race”.
The Yamahas are the biggest threat in Marc's mind, the Spaniard wanting to reduce the gap by improving on his few weak points.“We suffer when it comes to rear grip out of the turns, especially on fresh tyres. Another area where we could improve is the final braking phase, as I tend to push the front too hard, sometimes having to make extreme saves as a result”.
Lastly, Marc spares a thought for brother Alex, who is battling for the Moto2 title. “I've just told him to go with his instincts and feel the bike, forgetting about the situation. In FP1 he needed to get out and show his potential, that's what he did and now he needs to continue to prepare for the rest of the weekend”.
Audio recorded by Paolo Scalera