without losing the smile, he looks more serious than usual Marc Márquez, because it is not enough that he is physically like in his best days. The new Honda didn’t start as well as he had hoped and for the second day in a row he was out of the top ten at the Sepang test. 13th this time, 0.714 behind the head, and without being able to improve his record from Friday.
-Have you been able to follow the work plan today?
-Unfortunately we were only able to do 25 laps in the dry today, but it was enough to test the three black bikes. This is a bit difficult, because all the time you go out on track with a different bike and with different things to try, but pre-season is the time and someone has to do it at Honda. Today the bike with the Repsol fairing was not in the box, because it was the 2022 bike and we concentrated on the three black bikes. We have already discarded one and tomorrow we will continue with the work.
– Can we know why you have discarded it?
-No. (Laughter). I will probably not be in the box tomorrow. Don’t know. Tomorrow we need to focus on the priority, there was a bike with which I felt better and it is the one I have chosen to continue working on tomorrow. And there is also a very different bike, which I don’t feel has great potential, but there are interesting things. So we have to analyze it well, we will have a month to work in one direction or another.
-Have you tried the ground effect fairing?
-Yeah. I can’t say anything, but it’s a completely different bike. Different when it comes to riding, turning… the whole bike is different. We have to do a deep analysis only of the fairings.
-How many engines have you tested?
-I have only worked with the new engine. The old one was only on the 2022 bike. Basically it’s a little slower in top speed, but in acceleration it’s very similar.
-The plan is to have only one motorcycle to work in Portimao.
-No, the final decision will be made on the last day of the last test. For that reason we are working with so many different things. The team is doing a great job, both on the Japanese and European sides. Everything we have to try is very well organized because there are many things, small and large; And it’s easy to lose your way. We are spending a lot of time comparing the same situations, being very precise so as not to lose our way. We are still far from the fastest drivers, that’s obvious. Unfortunately today we should have tested a lot and tomorrow we should have concentrated on pace and small details, but we won’t be able to. So tomorrow we will continue with the test, testing the different bikes and we will decide if, facing Portimao, we improve both bikes, both bikes, or if we go in one direction.
-Can you be in the top 5 after the Portimao test?
-I believe. It is true that Malaysia is one of the worst circuits for me in terms of results, driving… but we are a long way off. I think we have improved a bit, but the bike still has a step to go. At the moment we can’t fight for the top 5, but I believe in Honda and there’s still a month to go. I already told you after Valencia that the plan was to take a step in Malaysia and another in Portimao. Sometimes on the computer you see one thing and in reality another, but we have to push and of course I believe. We are still in the second day of the preseason…
-Takeo left and Ken Kawauchi has arrived. Is something changing or are the differences not noticeable at the moment?
-Yes that’s how it is. It’s changing a bit, of course. Step by Step. I mean, it’s not like going from day to night. It’s changing a bit. It is true that we are trying some things that we already tried last year and they are not working well for us. But, in the end, the new technical manager wants to see with his eyes what is happening. We’re trying some things that didn’t work last year, but he wants to try. So I accept this role and I accept that now in preseason that he needs to have that information and it’s time to do it.
-The aspects in which you are suffering the most and in which you have to improve?
-I am still suffering a bit with the front end due to my riding style, but more than with the front end, I am looking for the connection with the gas and at the exit of the curve, which is where Ducati makes a lot of difference, at the exit of curve and acceleration, in the first meters. Then the engine is powerful, at top speed we are there, but we are late at top speed because the acceleration is not weak, but we have no traction. I’m looking a little bit in all areas, but there are two areas where we’re checking more deeply. At the moment we are not playing with the set-up. We continue to ride with the same setup and try new things.
-I had always worked with Takeo throughout his career at Honda. Did you have the opportunity to say goodbye to him and what do you think of the arrival of Ken Kawauchi in his place?
-I had the opportunity to say goodbye on Honda Thanks Day. It wasn’t official yet, but you could already feel it a bit and we already talked a bit there, and then also at Christmas. Of course, I have to thank Takeo. But there are times when in a large company like Honda there are decisions that you cannot control. Sometimes they will change a technician, sometimes they will change the driver… Sooner or later, for all of us here, there will come a day when someone younger, better or with a different philosophy than you will come along. And then the big boss will make the decision. There is always a boss or someone with more decision-making power than you. I remain focused on my work and giving my one hundred percent on the track.
Do you feel like they need more horsepower?
-We have enough horsepower and what we have to do now is to see how to make them efficient. That is the most important. The horses are there, but the way to be effective is what we have to understand. We have the horses, but we can’t use them.
– Is it a matter of the character of the engine?
-It’s hard to say. For me it’s more of a rear grip thing. It is always a consequence of something. The most important thing is that the new technical boss has some ideas that he brings from Suzuki. It is true that it is a different engine philosophy and also that our electronics work differently. Today Rins and Mir have ridden in a different way, which seems better and that I have not been able to test because I have not had time. We need to understand a lot of things and try new ideas, because when you have been on the same bike for a long time you can get stuck, so you have to try new ideas and maybe I have to adapt to a new riding style.