Thursday February 7, 2013
Marquez ready to make his Marc in MotoGP
SEPANG: New Repsol Honda signing Marc Marquez strengthened his claim as a potential podium contender in the new season with another top three finish in the MotoGP official testing at the Sepang Circuit.
Marquez, working on the RC213V bike’s electronics package, was third fastest again yesterday, clocking 2:00.803 as the second day of testing was cut short by rain.
Marquez’s team-mate, three-time world championships runner-up Dani Pedrosa, topped the timesheets in 2:00.549, improving on the benchmark of 2:01.157 he set on the first day of testing on Tuesday.
Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha was second fastest in 2:00.568.
Valentino Rossi continued to show positive signs that he can end his three-year drought now that he is back with Yamaha by finishing fourth fastest in 2:01.038.
The Italian won four of his world championship crowns with Yamaha before leaving for Ducati at the end of 2010. Rossi, whose last race win was at Sepang in 2010, has not won in the last 37 races.
But it was Marquez who put up the most sensational performance for a newcomer to the premier grid as Repsol Honda’s replacement for the retired Australian Casey Stoner.
Marquez, who will turn 19 on Feb 17, is the reigning Moto2 world champion and he also bagged the 125cc world title in 2010.
Naturally, many in the paddock feel that a podium finish is not out of reach for the talented young Spaniard when he lines up on the grid for the opening race in Qatar in April.
However, Marquez played down his impressive pace at Sepang, saying he doesn’t want to read too much into the timings at such an early stage of the season.
“Today was about playing with the electronics and testing them. I focused on finding a good set-up. I felt good on the bike today and I am happy to improve from yesterday,” said Marquez.
Marquez’s performance also caught Rossi’s attention, who felt that the Spaniard is even capable of fighting for a race win this season.
“We hope he will make some mistakes due to lack of experience. If not, he will be very strong for everybody,” said Rossi, who was happy with another fourth position finish.
“We have some different parts for the bike for this season and we continue to work on the setting.
“I was half a second faster than yesterday, which isn’t so bad. Fourth position is quite good, especially as we are less than half a second behind Pedrosa and Lorenzo.
“Unfortunately, it started to rain, so we had to stop earlier because our target this afternoon was to go into 2:00 but we will try again tomorrow.”
The test runs until today. The first race of the year will take place under floodlights in Qatar on the first weekend of April after two more test sessions.