Marc Marquez has admitted that Repsol Honda are on their back foot heading into the opening race of the 2016 MotoGP season at Losail this weekend. The two-time world champion has endured a problematic pre-season programme with his new RC213V showing similar symptoms to those which made the 2015 bike such a handful.
Despite making progress since the final test in Qatar, Marquez admits this weekend’s Grand Prix is unlikely to play to the Honda’s strengths.
“The season is finally about to start, and I’m looking forward to it. When we came here two weeks ago we did a big step forward with the setup at the very end of the test, and I really felt at ease with the bike, especially in my last run that was quite late in the evening, with the dew already starting to form. That’s positive in view of the race, even if we’re not yet where we’d like to be and still have a margin for improvement with the setup. The Losail layout may not be the most favourable of the season for our bike, but in the past we’ve scored a podium and a win here with the RC213V, so we’ll fight to get the best result on Sunday. This year there are a few variables that aren’t yet completely predictable, such as tyre wear at race distance, for example, and the bike’s behaviour with the new electronics. Still, Honda never cease to work hard, as is the case for me and the whole team, so I’m positive and look forward to the action starting!”
Teammate Dani Pedrosa is also keeping his optimism under control and admits he is unsure where Repsol Honda will sit in the overall pecking order.
“I’m going to Qatar with a positive attitude, even if the test we did there wasn’t completely satisfactory. We’ve made some progress with the electronics, but we have to improve further with the chassis setup and make the tyres work better. I expect things to go a little better for us this week compared to the test. We’re probably not yet where we’d like to be, but it’s important to remain positive, especially because with the many changes that have been introduced this year, I expect a greater balance among the performances of the riders compared to the past, at least in the beginning. Losail isn’t among my favourite tracks, but I’ve got five podium finishes here so we must stay focused, work to improve our bike setup and be ready to get the most from what we have and from the situation”.