In recent weeks, every time Marc Marquez finds himself in front of a microphone, the most awaited question and the one to which everyone hopes the rider will give a definitive answer concerns his future. Nothing changed when Marc showed up at the press conference before the Japanese Grand Prix, at the home of Honda, the manufacturer with which he has built his sporting legend in MotoGP.
But as has always happened in recent weeks, Marc's game of cat and mouse continued in Japan too and it doesn't seem necessary to us who at this moment is the feline and who is the rodent, the designated prey. The rumours that see him riding a Ducati Gresini paired with his brother Alex continue to fly around in a paddock exhausted by the wait, but this wait will have to be prolonged because the Spaniard has not yet unravelled the knots, at least publicly. In fact, there are those who swear that Marc already has more than one foot in Gresini and less than one in Honda HRC for 2024. But for the moment it all remains chatter, waiting for the smoke to clear, leaving a bit of meat clearly visible on the embers and not just ash. But in the press conference Marc, in addition to not responding on this topic, responded very clearly regarding the new calendar for 2024, presented a few days ago.
“As Binder says, it's true that we are paid for this - said Marquez - But it’s true that this isn’t 22 races - it’s 44. The sprint isn’t called a race but it’s a real race. Check the rider injuries this season, it’s a lot, and most in the first lap because it’s where we take the most risk and where people push the most. This new schedule is too much, the other schedule was okay. We need to get used to the new schedule. It’s demanding on the physical side - if you’re tired you lose concentration, and if you lose concentration there is more chance to crash or make a mistake. We will need to manage everything as best we can. On salaries, it is a critical point and I don't want to talk about it."
Have you seen Honda management here, has anything changed regarding your future?
"Maybe I'm convinced already. I never said right or left (Marc is referring to the decision to leave or stay, ed.). Just I said I want to find the best solution and I want the best for the project. That is where we are working together because my relationship with Honda is not rider and manufacturer. It's a special relationship, many years together. They gave to me a lot of things, I gave to them a lot of things."
So there's nothing new.
"In my mind I am quite clear, about the mental side, I don't have any doubts about myself, or what the best is for the situation. We are working very hard together, not only here but since the last races, to find the best and to have a better future for the project and to have the best results as soon as possible. The target is the same: find the best way and the best mode to improve the project for the future."
You arrive at Motegi after an excellent Grand Prix in India.
"The one in India was a really positive weekend for the HRC riders and this is a very important thing especially for the team. For my part, I'm working well. That was an excellent weekend, except for the crash in turn 1 in the race. I was trying to follow the Ducati riders because I wanted to find a way to fight for the podium, this was my target. After the crash I returned to the race and I had an excellent pace, similar to that of Quartararo. Here at Motegi there are some slow corners, maybe not quite like in India, but I think we can have a good weekend. Maybe not as good as in India, but certainly better than others like Silverstone or Barcelona. I don't have any particular expectations, let's see what happens in FP1."
Did you miss the podium?
"I liked getting on the podium in the Sprint in India, when you fight at the top you ride differently, you have a different mentality. But in the end I never gave up, my commitment has always been the same both when I fought for 15th position and when I did it for the top five. Let's see if I can feel good here, stay on a good level."
Will you use the 2024 chassis tested at Misano?
"I know that Joan will race with the 2024 prototype chassis. I won't do it, because I didn't feel any great advantages at Misano. Maybe it could go well here, but I think that prototype is not suitable for racing a season. I don't want to do a race with one chassis and then the next with another, so I'll stick with what I know. I'll try something that Honda asked me to, but I'll continue to do what I think."