‘We’re go­ing to see more mis­takes, so it’s im­por­tant not to crash any­more. With Dovi, Rossi and Pe­drosa crash­ing, we have one tar­get: Marc’

Jorge Lorenzo af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond to Mar­quez in Austin

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON AT CIR­CUIT OF THE AMER­I­CAS MO­TOGP REPORTER si­mon. pat­ter­son@ mo­tor­cy­cle news. com

Honda and Marc Mar­quez seemed lost dur­ing pre-sea­son test­ing and few would have pre­dicted such a strong start to the sea­son, but the Spa­niard is charg­ing hard and took another siz­zling win in the Texas heat on Sun­day.

Strug­gling with a mul­ti­tude of prob­lems on the Rep­sol Honda, it now looks like the hugely ex­pe­ri­enced HRC team are get­ting to grips with much-re­duced elec­tron­ics, Miche­lin tyres and how to bal­ance the RCV’S power and han­dling.

A lot of that progress has come thanks to the in­cred­i­ble tal­ents of Mar­quez. He’s gone back to his su­per-ag­gres­sive style that worked so well when he won the world ti­tle in 2013 and 2014.

In fact, such has been the im­prove­ment to his Honda pack­age that the 23-year-old has gone from be­liev­ing that 2016 would be a write-off at the end of pre-sea­son test­ing to now lead­ing the cham­pi­onship chase – and look­ing like a good bet to lift his third crown come the end of the year.

“If you had told me that I would have a 21-point ad­van­tage over Jorge, I would have told you ‘you are crazy!’ I re­mem­ber the feel­ing of Sepang, push­ing 100% on the first day and still be­ing one-and-a-half sec­onds a lap slower than Lorenzo. That feel­ing was very frus­trat­ing!

“It’s great news for us and for the team. In pre-sea­son, we strug­gled a lot. Then, we started to race and we were close in Qatar – it was OK. Then in Ar­gentina we were happy with the vic­tory, but with the flag-to-flag it was not a nor­mal race so we were not sure how well we had re­ally per­formed. But here it was a nor­mal week­end and we’re very happy.”

So what has led to the about-face from Mar­quez and a Honda that only weeks ago was strug­gling with a smor­gas­bord of is­sues?

Key to the changes has been a much bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the new con­trol elec­tron­ics, some­thing that has fi­nally al­lowed the HRC en­gi­neers to tackle is­sues with the chas­sis. Mar­quez ex­plained: “Ev­ery time I ride, we find some­thing new, in the elec­tron­ics, in the bike, and we are im­prov­ing step by step. Here, we im­proved the start, and it was much bet­ter. We im­proved a lit­tle bit the en­gine brak­ing too, with some­thing we found in Ar­gentina. Step by step, we are get­ting bet­ter.

“The key as al­ways is my team. They are work­ing re­ally hard, and still we must im­prove – we saw in the be­gin­ning of the race that Du­cati and Yamaha have bet­ter ac­cel­er­a­tion. But we will im­prove it in the fu­ture.”

There are more im­prove­ments to come from Honda too, with Mar­quez ex­pect­ing a host of new parts for the next round of the cham­pi­onship in two weeks’ time.

Trav­el­ling to Europe and to Jerez, the race of­fers not only a re­turn to more fa­mil­iar tracks but also the first op­por­tu­nity of the sea­son to test, with a one-day out­ing di­rectly af­ter the race sure to help Mar­quez even more.

“You can see here – I tried wings, I tried a dif­fer­ent fair­ing, and I be­lieve that while it’s pos­si­ble to go the wrong way, that we’re on the right path and that we need to keep work­ing like this.

“Honda are still work­ing, be­cause we’re still not at 100% per­for­mance – but now I’m happy. I’m happy with the last three races, but also want to get back to Europe. They are a dif­fer­ent kind of race­track, nar­rower and with a dif­fer­ent style of tar­mac. But now we have a 21-point lead, so some­thing is there, and we must see what Honda will bring.”

KEVIN SCH­WANTZ

to the podium, too! I was hop­ing theyõd be a lit­tle closer to the podium here, but with­out a few peo­ple go­ing down theyõd have been even fur­ther away.

ÒI think Da­vide Brivio and the whole team, the Ja­panese en­gi­neers and the staff at HQ, know what they need to do to build a world cham­pi­onship-win­ning bike. Theyõve closed the gap to the Yamaha and the Honda and the Du­cati con­sid­er­ably in a yearand-a-half, and there are big things still to come for them.

ÒAS a rider, fall­ing is some­thing you hate to do Ð but when you fall and take some­one else out with you, who is in cham­pi­onship con­tention, you feel hor­ri­ble. I donõt know why Dani pulled in af­ter get­ting back in the race, but it might have been to just get to Dovi as soon as pos­si­ble Ð heõd have been rid­ing around think­ing ÔI have to get to him, I have to apol­o­gise!õ

Òev­ery­one seemed to have some small is­sues with the front, and itõs some­thing you have to work out. Dani took a lit­tle un­nec­es­sary risk early on, but thatõs part of rac­ing. It sure was­nõt in­ten­tional!ó

Mar­quez get­ting to grips with the all-new Miche­lins

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