Valentino Rossi believes that Honda’s MotoGP bike is not as bad as Marc Marquez makes out – and thinks the Spaniard is guilty of “playing tactics” on the subject.
After a difficult winter of testing for Honda, Marquez was immediately on the pace in the Qatar season opener, finishing third, before taking a dominant victory in Argentina – albeit in an unusual flag-to-flag race.
And the two-time champion has started the Austin weekend in imperious style by topping both Friday practice sessions around a circuit where he enjoys a perfect record.
With Marquez frequently taking the opportunity to play up the problems that Honda still has with its RC213V machine, Rossi says he no longer buys his rival’s claims of weakness.
“I always considered he was very dangerous,” said Rossi. “The situation quickly changes.
“During the tests, the fastest was Lorenzo and then he took a great win in Qatar. But his mistake in Argentina brought Marquez back in front, also because he [Marquez] won.
“The Honda seems very good to me. According to me, when he talks about difficulties [with the bike], Marquez plays a bit of tactics, he feathers his own nest, but he knows very well that this is a very strong bike.”
Rossi did, however, concede that the difference between Marquez and his fellow Honda riders remains considerable.
“It's true also that he looks much faster than [Dani] Pedrosa, especially here,” added the Italian.
“This means he's comfortable and he will be hard to beat.”
Additional reporting by Charles Bradley