Published: Thursday February 7, 2013 MYT 4:13:00 PM
Honda boss praises Marquez's speed
SEPANG, Malaysia: Honda boss Shuhei Nakamoto on Thursday praised 19-year-old MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez, who was third fastest in the first two day's of pre-season testing at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.
Nakamoto said the young Spaniard, the reigning Moto2 champion, was still learning how to ride the heavier, more powerful bike, but suggested he could start winning races in the first half of the season.
"His lap time is better than we expected," Nakamoto told reporters on the sidelines on the final day of testing. "Honda riders are working hard. I am happy."
Nakamoto, who is vice president of Honda Racing Corporation, previously said Marquez, who has replaced the retired Australian Casey Stoner in the team, could start winning in the second half of the season.
But asked about the possibility of winning before then, he said: "I hope. This is a race. It is not easy to win. He needs to be consistent."
On the first two days of testing the Spanish rider was third fastest behind team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, but ahead of nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi.
Rossi has returned to Yamaha after two frustrating seasons with Ducati.
Nakamoto said Marquez, who on Wednesday described racing with top MotoGP riders as a "dream come true", had complained of poor braking on his bike.
"He is complaining the brake is not good. The three-day testing is for learning. He is learning to use the electronic controls on the bike. First of all Marquez has to understand the machine and the team," Nakamoto said.
The three days of testing end Thursday evening. The second test session will be held at Sepang from February 26 to 28, while the third session will be held in Jerez from March 23 to 25.
The opening round of the MotoGP world championship will be in Qatar under floodlights on April 7. Malaysia will host round 15 on October 13. - AFP