Eighth place (+0.359s) and top Honda during an encouraging return to action on Friday, the Spaniard put his sore arm and shoulder muscles to the test with a massive front-end save and then an accident on Saturday morning’s FP3.
The complications continued when Marquez, trying some radical set-up ideas for 2023 on his spare bike, missed the top ten cut-off for direct Q2 access by two places but was satisfied despite 14th in FP4.
“Today we come back to the reality of this moment. In FP3 the problems started. I didn’t feel good with the bike. We tried some big things for Honda. Then I crashed with the good bike. The other bike was not the one that I preferred. So, I couldn’t improve the lap time.
“Then from FP4 to Q1, I’m very happy. I’m very happy about the speed but especially the feeling with the bike. I start to feel the bike and feel the same problems as always [with it].”
The Repsol Honda star came within 0.066s of claiming the final transfer spot in Qualifying 1, where an attempted tow behind Aleix Espargaro was foiled at Turn 1.
“I started to ride in a good way. In Q1 I tried with the first tyre. I was alone and did a 46.9s which is a good sign because in the first part of the season it was impossible to ride alone. Now I ride alone and I did a good lap time.
“Then the second run it was crazy with the yellow flags.Unlucky. But if you have the speed, you are always lucky. If you don’t have the speed, you’re always unlucky. It’s true that today we still don’t have the speed of the top guys. “
Marquez: ‘FP3 was for Honda, FP4 was for me’
Pressed further on the experiments he had done with his bike today, including further use of an aluminium swingarm from Kalex, Marquez explained:
“Yesterday we analysed everything and we found the best bike. this is our base. But then this morning that was not in the garage because it was important, especially here in MotorLand where I know what I need to be fast. to try [other] things.
“This morning we tried a concept for Honda that in the end was not working – but it’s important to try the concept to find the way for 2023.
“But I knew FP3 is crucial for Sunday’s race. If you’re out of Q2, Q1 everyone is riding very fast.
“FP3 was for Honda, FP4 was for me.
“The swingarm, you can see from outside. If I did qualifying with the aluminium one, it’s because I feel better. But if you check FP3, you can see it was not fitted in any bike because we were working for another thing.”
Marquez: ‘My longest run is five laps in a row’
Nonetheless, it is Marquez’s physical endurance – after the bone realignment surgery on his right arm – rather than grid position which will have the biggest impact on his race.
“Tomorrow will be an interesting day because since Mugello I haven’t made any long run. The maximum long run I did is five laps in a row. I cannot think about managing the tyres, I will think about managing myself.
“As we saw today, Ducati riders are so fast. Fabio is doing something special with his bike. There are three riders that are flying, Pecco, Bastianini and Fabio. The others are not very far but we are there.
“But what I understand already in free practice is to overtake is very difficult. I mean, as soon as you brake behind another bike you feel a lot the aerodynamic effects. Then you cannot stop the bike. For that reason everyone in Misano was struggling to overtake.”
LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami qualified as the top Honda in 12th, with Alex Marquez 17th and Pol Espargaro 18th.