Marquez returned to action on Saturday at the opening day of the Sepang pre-season test in Malaysia, following three months on the sidelines while he recovered from vision problems.
While the other Honda riders had tested the 2022 RC213V prototype last November at Jerez, Saturday at Sepang was Marquez’s first time on the bike – with the Spaniard trying two 2022-specs and a 2021 bike today.
Ending the day as top Honda rider in eighth on the standings, 0.916 second off the pace, Marquez crashed twice – once at the Turn 9 uphill left-hander, and again at the last corner.
Admitting the latter was his own mistake, Marquez says he still doesn’t “completely understand” his Turn 9 spill – nor does he fully know why he is finding it “easier” to do lap times on the 2022 Honda.
“The bike is different, so starting from this point, on my personal side, it’s a long time riding in one style,” he said.
“It’s true that the bike – because today I had last year’s bike too – and immediately I understand that the speed, or the lap, is easier to get with the new bike.
“But this created another problem, like always, and one of the things I must learn and I need to understand is the front feeling.
“That’s changed a lot. It’s true today – and one mistake was completely mine – one time I crashed and still don’t completely understand why, because I didn’t make anything [strange].
“All these things, plus a long time without riding the GP bike created [a situation] where still I don’t understand well how to ride this bike. The lap time was coming, but I don’t know why.”
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
The Honda is the most radically different bike on the grid following two tough years, with HRC seemingly building a bike more biased towards the rear end.
Marquez’s strength in years gone by has been his front-end feeling, which is why he was able to make such incredible front-end saves before sustaining the arm injury which derailed his 2020 season and from which he is still recovering.
But he says pushing the front like he used to is causing problems, with Marquez noting: “At the moment, with this new bike, that point, I need to sacrifice a bit. Today when I tried this, I lost the front.”
Having spent so much time off the MotoGP bike, logging laps last month at Portimao on a road-going version of his race bike, Marquez noted Saturday’s running for him was more about simply getting laps under his belt than doing any major development work.
“Without riding a MotoGP bike for a long time, and especially not riding a lot this winter time – I rode the last two weeks, but not usually – the speed is there,” he said.
“But the feeling to try the things, the feeling of the limit, the feeling of the lines, you lose all these points and you get them by doing the laps.
“I said to my team today, ‘Forget about the things, I need laps’, and we finished with the same bike we started with.
“We tested a few things, but not much. Tomorrow, if I feel ready, I will say I’m ready.”