Honda has totally overhauled its RC213V for 2022 after several difficult seasons and has appeared to make the bike more user-friendly, with Pol Espargaro leading for 18 of Sunday’s 22 laps before finishing third.
The new Honda is more rear-biased to cure traction issues it suffered before, but this has meant the front-end feels different and Marquez is taking time to fully adapt the RC213V to his riding style.
A small crash in Sunday’s warm-up session while trialling the medium front tyre led him to race with the soft, with Marquez ultimately finishing the race fifth having been in podium contention throughout.
Though he admits he can’t “believe” in the front-end of the Honda like he would want right now, he felt his race was solid given the circumstances.
“I mean, here was two factors,” Marquez explained. “I mean the confidence with the front is not the highest one at the moment, and there I am struggling a bit more to understand, [because] especially in the practice you believe because you know if you crash it’s OK.
“But in the race when you don’t have confidence you can’t believe like you want, and plus this morning I had this small crash, so I had those doubts. And here in Qatar, historically for me always I struggle with the front tyre.
“Today was not different, but it was the same tyre as the others. But even like this, suffering a lot, and managing the situation we finished fifth, four seconds behind the first guy.”
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Akhil Puthiyedath
Marquez heaped praise on the job teammate Espargaro has done on the Honda so far in 2022, and says the 2013 Moto2 champion is acting as “a good reference” for him right now.
“During all weekend he was riding a bit better than me,” Marquez said of Espargaro. “The way he got the lap time is a little bit easier.
“He is able to stop the bike a lot on entry and he’s using the rear brake a lot. Still, I can’t use this rear brake, because if I do I lose the rear.
“Anyway, since he got this bike he’s ridden really good – in Malaysia, Mandalika, here. It’s good to have a good reference inside the box.
“But we are in the first race, we need to understand now what he did better this weekend, but he rode in a very good way.”