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Marquez “worried” about Honda’s MotoGP qualifying pace

Alex Marquez admits he is “a bit worried” about the potential of his Honda MotoGP bike in qualifying ahead of this weekend’s Doha Grand Prix.

Marquez “worried” about Honda’s MotoGP qualifying pace

The LCR rider struggled for form on the RC213V in his rookie season in 2020, only cracking the top 12 on the grid twice across the campaign.

The Honda is typically a difficult bike to extract the maximum from during a time attack, but Marquez feels he has made a step forward in this area for 2021.

However, he could only manage 16th on the grid for last weekend’s Qatar GP - which he crashed out of – and concedes he still needs to understand how to maximise a fresh tyre better.

"Last year it was quite difficult,” he said of Honda’s qualifying.

“This year with the electronic improvements it's a bit easier on one lap.

“Now, it's not that it's easier, but we missed less, about two tenths, not like last year when we were a second off.

“Maybe the Honda is not the easiest bike in one lap, but I also have to make a step forward with the new tyre.

“In the past, in Moto2, I was good on one lap, I'm a bit worried because it's important, but with time I'll understand it and I hope it won't take too long.”

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Qualifying is an area of concern for Marquez’s factory team replacement Pol Espargaro, who was 12th for his debut on the bike last weekend.

Espargaro says he is still “far away” from where the bike needs to be to fight for better positions, with the Honda rider only able to recover to eighth last Sunday despite having pace comparable to that of race winner Maverick Vinales on the Yamaha.

“It’s the point that’s worrying me most,” he replied when asked about qualifying.

“If we see the lap times, we are very, very close to Maverick on the race pace – super-close, more than I expected.

“But then in the fast lap times [in qualifying], we are way, way, way too far.

“But exactly the same with the Ducatis: for example, look at Jack [Miller’s] lap on Saturday and where he was in the race (started fifth, finished ninth), or Valentino [Rossi] and where he finished the race (started fourth, finished 12th).

“So, for me, it feels like the first priority at the moment is one lap on Saturday.

“Actually, I can more or less explain why it’s happened.

“I have done seven days of riding [at Losail], but how many times did I do the time attack?

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“Before the Saturday I did, like, 12 time attacks. So just 12 times pushing to the limit, this is nothing.

“So, this is the point that actually at the moment I’m looking for and analysing why and how we can make a better job on Saturday.

“And if we can do that, Sunday is going to much easier than it was and we can fight for something much bigger.”

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