MAR­QUEZ SEES THE QATAR TEST­ING MO­TOGP SPE­CIAL

Honda man fi­nally gets his RCV di­alled into new Miche­lins and spec elec­tron­ics

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - 2016 AT QATAR MO­TOGP REPORTER si­mon.patterson@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Marc Mar­quez says he can fi­nally see some light at the end of the tun­nel af­ter a long and dif­fi­cult win­ter com­ing to grips with Mo­togp’s new Miche­lin tyres and con­trol elec­tron­ics pack­age.

Honda have been strug­gling right from the mo­ment new tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions for 2016 came into place. HRC en­gi­neers have spent ev­ery wak­ing hour to find a way out of the dark­ness and a so­lu­tion to the prob­lems that have plagued not only Mar­quez and team-mate Dani Pe­drosa but also the satel­lite bikes of Cal Crutchlow and the two-man MARCVDS team.

Work­ing fever­ishly right up un­til the fi­nal min­utes of last week’s three­day Qatar test, Mar­quez ad­mit­ted it wasn’t un­til the dy­ing mo­ments that they found some­thing which al­lowed him not only to fin­ish the test fourth over­all but also happy with his race sim­u­la­tion time.

“Hon­estly, I’m very happy, be­cause we have seen the light at the end of the tun­nel. We made a huge step. We saw that in the lap time, but also in our pace. The last run of the test was when I fi­nally felt bet­ter – when I did the best lap time and when I felt re­ally good with the bike.

“It’s still not enough, and we still need to im­prove, be­cause in the end un­til we’re not P1 we’re go­ing to have to push more, but I have to say thanks to my team – Honda helped a lot, but the hard work of my team made a huge step that gave us a big dif­fer­ence.”

Af­ter some se­ri­ously anx­ious mo­ments at the first Sepang and fi­nal Qatar test, HRC ap­pear to have rec­ti­fied the is­sues with en­gine ride­abil­ity and built up an un­der­stand­ing of the new elec­tron­ics.

And with those prob­lems po­ten­tially mask­ing a com­pat­i­bil­ity prob­lem be­tween the bike’s base­line set-up and the new rear-fo­cused Miche­lin tyres – the po­lar op­po­site of last sea­son’s Bridge­stones – Mar­quez told MCN that it’s taken un­til now to get to the bot- tom of the RCV’S pre-sea­son prob­lems.

“I will not tell you where the change was be­cause if some­one else is strug­gling then they will know too! But the prob­lem is that we ar­rived in Malaysia strug­gling with the elec­tron­ics – and lost three days con­cen­trat­ing on them. Phillip Is­land is a spe­cial cir­cuit, and the bike was work­ing there, more or less.

“But this is the first time the elec­tron­ics were work­ing well, where we were hap­pier with them, and we were able to con­cen­trate on the set-up of the bike. For some rea­son, when we tested with Miche­lin, we never changed a lot from Bridge­stone, but here we made that change and it looks like it is the right way for­ward.”

Con­cen­trat­ing on the ge­om­e­try and the bal­ance of the bike for most of the three days at Lo­sail, it seems Mar­quez’s so­lu­tion to the is­sues was some­where in the way their set-up put weight over the front-end. And with it fixed, he has been able to re­turn to the way he tra­di­tion­ally rides, load­ing the fron­tend heav­ily, and brak­ing late.

‘ This is the first time the elec­tron­ics were

work­ing well’

He also got an op­por­tu­nity to gauge where he needs to make up the dif­fer­ence to his op­po­si­tion, af­ter man­ag­ing to se­cure a num­ber of laps be­hind fastest man of the test, Jorge Lorenzo.

“I fol­lowed Jorge - I’m sorry for him, but when I saw the op­por­tu­nity I couldn’t not take it! I was strug­gling where we know we’re strug­gling – on the ac­cel­er­a­tion. The thing is, the run I did be­hind him was on a to­tally dif­fer­ent bike from what I did the lap time on.

“I was happy be­hind him, but we know that fol­low­ing some­one is al­ways eas­ier. I wasn’t com­pletely happy but then we changed the set-up again and when I rode again alone I was able to get a much bet­ter feel for the bike. That was the time to have a smile on my face!”

That’s more like it, Mar­quez is fi­nally on the pace

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