For many riders this weekend in Valencia has a different flavour from the others. A mixture of emotions, which tastes like goodbyes and new beginnings. Of joy and sadness, like those savoured by Marc Marquez celebrating the third place achieved in the Sprint Race, in his last weekend with the colours of the Repsol Honda team.
"I tried to control myself and my emotions, but it's true that when I arrived at the podium and saw all the faces of my people - that is and will be my people - it was super difficult to control the emotions. Okay, it's only a sprint race, but this weekend I tried to do my 100%. I was disappointed in qualifying because starting ninth will be more difficult tomorrow, but it's the best way to say thanks to all the people who helped me to achieve my dreams - said the Catalan rider - It was an almost perfect Saturday. It would have been really perfect if I had managed to start on the second row. I wasn't able to achieve a result in qualifying because we struggled with new tyres, but I have a good pace this weekend."
A difficult podium to predict on the eve of the race, but the eight-time world champion tried everything to try to end his collaboration with the Japanese manufacturer on a high note.
"It’s a combination of a circuit that I like, taking more risks and motivation - said Marc – It's true that in the middle of the championship, it was difficult to keep the motivation, then I crashed many times, but for that reason when I say to you in Qatar the target was to finish the race to build confidence, because when you finish the race, if you crash in Qatar, you arrive here already with less confidence. So in Malaysia, Qatar, I build the confidence and then here I attack. When you attack, everything is possible. Today I nearly crashed in Turn 1 twice, but super close. In the end, I was able to finish. Tomorrow I will try to do the same, of course, everything is possible. I would like to finish the race but the target for tomorrow is to try to be in the top five. More than top five is because everything is going a good way."
A bit of a quitter in Qatar, the eldest of the Marquez brothers took no prisoners with Jorge Martin at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, attacking the Pramac team rider without hesitation in the early stages of the race.
“The truth is that there was a bit of chaos in Turns 4 and 5 with Binder and Vinales, then I tried as usual to enter Turn 6, but Martin defended very well. I cut off the gas, but continued to coast and if I had maintained my normal speed, we would have touched and one of us would have crashed. So I hugged the tank to avoid the worst" explained Marc speaking of the near contact with Jorge and his aggressiveness at the start of the race.
“Everyone does their own race. I remember that in the past I was fighting for the championship and I finished with my leathers all covered in black marks left by Johann Zarco's tyres at Phillip Island. I don't remember what year it was. In the end, I didn't attack Pecco in the first laps of the Qatar Sprint and in the race I didn't attack Martin because it wasn't about the podium and I didn't have the rhythm or the pace. Today, however, I had the pace and was in the conditions to do it and despite losing time with Vinales I managed to make up on the leaders, even if the truth is that I gave up on the last lap because I was too far away and the emotions started to make their way inside my helmet. The podium was enough, but I'll try again tomorrow. It will all depend on the first laps. Today the first lap was perfect. I was already third starting ninth, which isn't bad at all" continued the Honda rider, who, speaking of Martin's race, added: "Martin did his job, he had a great race, he was at an excellent level and he won, recovering points on Pecco. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. If I were Martin I would pay more attention to the pitboard and the screens. Everything will obviously depend on winning the race, but with the speed he has he can opt for different strategies. He told me that tomorrow he will race with the soft."
The Valencia Grand Prix might go very differently from this Sprint, but Marc is intent on facing another race full of attack, having already obtained a podium in his last appearance with Honda.
"For me, it's the best way to say thanks to all the people. I already said, on the race track you can say thanks a lot, give many presents, but the best present is the results on the race track. I think they know me and already Santi before the race comes to me and says 'be careful, I know you, don't take too much risk. We are happy with your result anyway if you finish'. But they know me and tomorrow I would like to finish the race but I will try to do the best one more time" commented the 30-year-old Catalan, in his final stages with the team that made him great.
“Obviously it will be difficult to say goodbye to everyone, especially the Spanish and Italian teams, who are the ones we have dinner with every day. But also with the whole Japanese team, even if there are many new faces now. It will be difficult to say goodbye to everyone. But obviously I will try to do my job as best as I can on the track, because if the results are good, more doors open, in every sense" said Marc, who also received a visit from the HRC president in the morning: "I have a excellent relationship with President Watanabe. I know they are working very hard for the future of the project and I wish them the best."