Photography Courtesy of Repsol Honda
SEPANG, MALAYSIA, FEB 6 - Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez continued to impress heading into his rookie MotoGP season by setting the third fastest time on a rain-shortened day at the Sepang International Circuit.
The 2012 Moto2 World Champion has delivered on his promise since first getting on the Repsol Honda RC213V at the post-Valencia test. As Ducati Team's Nicky Hayden noted," In Valencia already he was putting up red helmets in the first sector at the test."
There were no red helmets here. Teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha's World Champion Jorge Lorenzo are the leaders, but Marquez is a solid third and has been for both days. Yesterday he was only .048 of a second behind Pedrosa in third place, while today he was farther back, .254 of a second. But he also had a similar gap to the fourth fastest rider, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.
Marquez's crew has been slowly schooling him in the ways of MotoGP. Today he began to adjust the electronics, which he hadn't done much of until now. Immediately he could feel the difference, and he also began sliding the bike. He might have done even more had rain not begun falling late in the afternoon, effectively ending his second day.
"Today we didn't make many laps because in the afternoon it rained, but the most important is that already from the first exit I was in the same lap time of yesterday," Marquez said. "Then we started to play a little bit with the electronics to try and understand more and I was happy, because when you learn new things you enjoy it and each time I go out I learn something. Today I was more constant with the lap times and this is better for me and the team, because we can try better the things. I thought about doing some laps in the wet, but in the end we decided we will wait."
Where Marquez believes he needs to improve is in consistency. Though he's been able to string a few fast laps together, he finds that he's still making rookie mistakes, which is understandable.
"When you see the lap times, for example Jorge [Lorenzo], Dani [Pedrosa] and Valentino [Rossi], they are more constant and on another level and this is the most difficult thing in MotoGP," he said. "Today I was happy because we tried some things on the electronics. Still we can play a lot in that area but it rained and for tomorrow we need to do many laps to do that job."
Rossi was Marquez's favorite rider growing up, though he also lists fellow Spaniard Pedrosa as one of his influences. Now that he's sharing the track with both of them, it seems strange, he said.
"Sure, it is strange, a surprise for me, but we are only in the pre-season and the most important thing is to get a good feeling with the bike," he said. "The time is important, because if you are fast it means something, but it is only the first test."
With two long straightaways, mastering hard braking is essential for a quick lap time. With his limited experience, Marquez said hitting his brake markers is the most difficult part of a fast lap in Sepang.
"For one lap it is okay, but to be constant every lap, especially in the hard braking point, is quite difficult, and I am happy because I concentrated on that point and in the last exit I was quite constant," he said. "We can still improve, but I am happy for that. If you do a good brake point then it makes the corner easier."
Marquez has always been known for his incredible lean angles, something he shared with his Repsol Honda predecessor, Casey Stoner. But, he insisted, if you look at the videos from November you can see his style has already changed considerably, "and I saw today too that I have even changed from yesterday. In the middle of the corner you need to use that angle but on the exit you don't need this and step by step I need to change my riding style from Moto2."