Honda: Austrian MotoGP showed Marquez ‘returning to his real potential’

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez showed in the Austrian MotoGP that he is “returning to his real potential”, according to Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig.

Marquez finished 15th in the second race at the Red Bull Ring after crashing at the start of the penultimate lap, as rain fell over Spielberg.

However, the six-time MotoGP champion had been among the three fighting for victory before the rain set in, and was first of those who had pitted to switch to their wet-weather bikes at the time of the spill.

Marquez remains under-strength, particularly in his right shoulder, as a result of badly breaking his humerus in last year’s opening round, a little over 12 months ago now.

He has generally run in the back half of the top 10 since his comeback and although there has been a win in that time, at the German Grand Prix, the Sachsenring’s unique, anti-clockwise layout masked the Spaniard’s physical issues.

The Red Bull Ring, on the other hand, is predominantly right-handers, yet it was Marquez who led the top five into the pits with three laps remaining.

Puig therefore makes the performance to be a positive one for not only Marquez himself, but in general for Honda, which is trying to turn its RC213V back into a genuinely competitive bike.

“Obviously, the final result was not good, but if we look at Marc’s race we can see that even if he had disadvantages, he was able to go with the top riders and stay with them in the dry,” observed Puig.

“That’s important for Marc Marquez and also very important for the Repsol Honda Team because we understand that he is returning to his real potential.

“We are leaving Austria of course missing some of the potential in our RC213V, but we are constantly working to improve.

“We are not there yet but we are on the way.”

Marquez admitted during the first race weekend at the Red Bull Ring, the Michelin Grand Prix of Styria, that he felt worse than expected, physically, after the summer break.

He revealed after the second round in Austria that he has been taking an over-the-counter painkiller to get through most of the races he has started this year.

Marquez battling at the front in the early stages of the race, with Jorge Martin (#89) and Francesco Bagnaia (#63)

“Except in Germany, where it didn’t bother me, and last weekend [Styrian Grand Prix], almost all the rest, I would say three or four times more, I’ve had to do it,” explained the 28-year-old.

“It depends on the feeling I have. It’s Enantyum that you can buy in the pharmacy, they infiltrate it in the muscles because that way it has more effect and it works faster.

“I try to avoid it because I know that tomorrow I will be worse, but in the race it always helps, you have pain, but you can do a little more strength.”

Encouragingly for Marquez, who has been working with a new chassis, he and Honda found “something interesting” during practice at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Less encouraging was the race which team-mate Pol Espargaro had.

Espargaro ran no higher than 15th until the pit stops began with five laps to go and, having stayed out until Lap 27 before swapping bikes, took the chequered flag a lap later in 16th.

Puig said of the arrival from KTM in the last off-season, “Also, the understanding between Pol Espargaro and his bike is negative.

“He is far away from his potential, and he is missing out on the bike’s potential.

“He is suffering and we need to work with him to overcome the situation.”

Despite missing the first two rounds of the year, Marc Marquez is Honda’s top rider in the championship, in 11th, on 59 points.

LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez are 12th and 14th respectively, with Espargaro 15th.

Test rider Stefan Bradl, who filled in for Marc Marquez and then undertook a wildcard start, occupies 22nd with 11 points to his name.

Round 12 of the season is the British Grand Prix, at Silverstone on August 27-29.

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