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Honda's front end still "critical", says Marquez

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Honda's front end still "critical", says Marquez
By:
Feb 10, 2019, 10:31 AM

Honda's 2019 MotoGP bike is still susceptible to front-end crashes despite the manufacturer's effort to improve this aspect, believes Marc Marquez.

Marquez suffered 23 crashes across the 2018 season on his way to a fifth MotoGP title, a contributing factor in the shoulder problems that led him to undergo surgery over the winter.

The operation left Marquez not fully fit for this week's Sepang test, and after completing limited laps on all three days he concluded Friday's running down in 11th place, a little under a second off the pace set by Ducati's Danilo Petrucci.

Although the Spaniard was not pushing hard enough to be certain, he pointed to the two crashes suffered by Honda stablemate Cal Crutchlow as evidence that the front end on the 2019 bike remains tricky.

"Of course we are working also on this area, but this test I wasn't concentrated on this area because I wasn't pushing like always," said Marquez. "I didn't have any saves, any moments, I was always smooth.

"This is not normal for me, but Cal crashed two or three times, and still it looks like a critical point but we will see.

"When I will be ready to push I will push like always but this test I don't have any saves, I wasn't pushing, and to try the things in the front, I say to them [the team] it is better to not try.

"We tried [to improve] acceleration because is where I can feel, but going on the corner I was not pushing."

When Marquez's opinion was put to him, Crutchlow said he felt his Sepang crashes stemmed from something different to the traditional cause of Honda riders "being too greedy with the front end".

Crutchlow explained: "You have to take my crashes differently, because when we normally crash with the front end with the Honda, we crash a lot in the braking zone and we over-stress the front and we crash.

"My front end feeling at the moment is the completely opposite. I feel like I don't have the load like last year, so maybe they have improved it, and I need to also adapt and we need to adapt the setting to it."

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Final engine choice still to be made

Due to his injuries, Marquez said on Thursday he has primarily focused on comparing two different types of engine during the Sepang test rather than trying to hone finer details on the RC213V.

The reigning champion said he was "more or less" decided on which engine he prefers but added that Honda wanted to defer a final decision until after the last pre-season test in Qatar later this month.

"Still we have one test and they say that is not a big drama to choose here, but more or less for me the way is clear," said Marquez.

"But it is better to try in Qatar because the conditions we had these three days, especially this last day, we don't have during all the season.

"The track was so easy, there was a lot of rubber, everything works well because lot of rubber on the track, a lot of grip, and was easy to ride the bike."

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Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont and Scherazade Mulia Saraswati

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

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