Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport -

One of the great mys­ter­ies of the 2016 pre-sea­son was just what level Marc Mar­quez and the Rep­sol Honda would be at in Qatar. But af­ter fin­ish­ing in a strong third place, it looks like we’re start­ing to get a clearer pic­ture that Mar­quez will be a se­ri­ous con­tender for ti­tle glory once again.

Mar­quez was not only able to run with the lead­ing pack in the race, some­thing that ap­peared un­likely af­ter his trou­bled test­ing per­for­mances, but was also able to chal­lenge se­cond place man An­drea Dovizioso right to the flag.

“Two weeks ago it was a com­plete disas­ter, and we’ve made a huge im­prove­ment in the last few days. If you’d told me in the press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day that we’d fin­ish on the podium, I would have cried.

“OK, the per­fect race was sec- ond place for us, but we couldn’t do it, Du­cati were re­ally strong on the ac­cel­er­a­tion, and it’s hard to man­age that. We’re happy with the re­sult though, and we need to keep work­ing be­cause the next few cir­cuits will be eas­ier for us.”

His­tory has shown that Ar­gentina and Cir­cuit Of The Amer­i­cas are in­deed tracks that should help to negate some of the ar­eas in which the Honda is still strug­gling, and give Mar­quez and team-mate Dani Pe­drosa a bet­ter chance of glory.

In Qatar, both Mar­quez and Pe­drosa were ham­pered by the slow se­cond gear cor­ner that pro­ceeds the 0.6-mile front straight, mean­ing they were no match for the blis­ter­ingly fast Du­catis.

With the 2016 spec­i­fi­ca­tion en­gines now sealed for the sea­son, MCN un­der­stands that HRC has found gains with ex­per­i­men­tal ex­haust com­po­nents in a bid to claw back time to their ri­vals.

Mar­quez added: “We know that here I was los­ing a lot – we worked out I was los­ing four tenths to Du­cati on the ac­cel­er­a­tion. But Honda have given me 100% this week­end, they’re work­ing re­ally hard, and ev­ery­one did the max­i­mum.”

‘If you’d told me we’d fin­ish on the podium I would

have cried’

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