Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has revealed he has already commenced talks about renewing his factory Honda contract.
Like almost all the riders on the MotoGP grid, Marquez is out of contract at the end of the 2018 season, and has been the subject of silly season speculation over his future.
Maverick Vinales was the first of the factory riders to announce his 2019 plans last month, when he signed a new two-year deal to remain at Yamaha.
Despite interest from other factories, Marquez has always insisted remaining at Honda would be his preferred choice, assuming the RC213V remained competitive – and after the opening winter test in Sepang, the Spaniard disclosed that talks have begun.
“It seems that every year renewals go faster,” said Marquez. “I’ve started to talk to Honda, to discuss some things, but I’m not in a rush.
“My priority was to start the pre-season, to feel comfortable with the bike, to see the improvements and to confirm that the team had responded to my requests.
“I’m always focused on the same thing: I want to feel comfortable and see that Honda keeps working.”
He added: “You switch teams when you normally need external motivation, to feel better or to achieve better results. On my own, I don’t have a lack of motivation and the results are coming, so that means I don’t need to change.
“At the moment, I’ve only spoken to Honda. I’ve always said that Honda will have priority in everything because that is what my body and my heart say.”
Honda delivers "best bike" in years
Marquez was seventh-fastest on the final day of Sepang testing, a little more than half a second slower than pace-setter Jorge Lorenzo on the Ducati.
The four-time champion was pleased with the start Honda made, describing the 2018 iteration as the “best” bike he’s had in winter testing – but said the aggressiveness of the engine was still a cause for concern.
“Considering the last [few] winters, this is the best bike I’ve had,” said Marquez. “We’ve started from a quite good base – [in 2016] we arrived at the first test and on the straights I had problems with the bike.
“This time, on the first laps with the new bike, things already went pretty well; everything came easily and I could try new parts. We’ve started better.
“So far we’ve improved in terms of power, we’ve got more top speed, but now it’s time to focus on improving the smoothness when opening the gas. The engine is still too aggressive.”
Additional reporting by Jose Carlos de Celis and Oriol Puigdemont