until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


'Struggling' Marquez's first real backwards step at Ducati

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

A "struggling" Marc Marquez has held his hands up and admitted that his woes on the first day of MotoGP's French Grand Prix weekend have been of his own making.

On what amounts to his first real day of difficulties since switching from Honda to a year-old, Gresini-run Ducati for 2024, Marquez fell in the first 10 minutes of the afternoon session at Le Mans and ended the day 13th - consigning him to a Q1 appearance on Saturday.

It's also one of the first times he’s been conclusively outclassed on a Friday by his fellow year-old Ducati riders, with Fabio Di Giannantonio and Marco Bezzecchi both qualifying directly for Q2.

“The first Friday that was difficult,” Marquez admitted after the session. “Other Fridays were quite easy, and the pace was good; it was easy to be in Q2.

“But it's true that it's the first Friday that we've struggled more. It can happen. So now it's time to react, and try to understand what we did, where I struggled more on my riding style, and try to improve for tomorrow.”

So far that struggle seems to be coming from a difficulty in making his riding style work with the Ducati Desmosecidi around the Le Mans Bugatti circuit, the first time Marquez has experienced that since his Ducati switch - and the first time that he’s crashed because he wasn’t feeling comfortable on the bike.

“Today was the first crash due to over-riding,” he explained. “I was fighting against the bike. I was not smooth enough, I was not clean on the lines.

“And on that crash, I leaned too much. I was struggling to keep [in] the lines and I leaned too much.

“I'm struggling because I'm pushing too much in the front - because I don't feel the rear. So we need to understand how to feel the rear better.

“Ducati, especially this bike, you need to feel a lot, or you need to take all the potential from the rear. If not, you will struggle, and it's what happened today.”

And while Marquez was quick to explain that his riding style had been the biggest limitation, he also expressed his frustration that he hadn't been able to take advantage of two opportunities to progress to Q2.

The first was taken away from him when Enea Bastianini crashed and brought out a yellow flag, while on his final attempt Marquez - who crossed the line with a second to spare - had been up on his previous best in the first sector but then made a small error on the approach to La Chapelle.

“Yeah, because I was struggling,” he admitted, when asked if he was riding angry. “I was not angry, but I was feeling that frustration on the last tyre.

“I did one lap just to see [the pace], and then the next lap there was a yellow flag, and [on] the last one I did a mistake.

“So I was angry about my mistake, because I knew that was the last chance. And the two last laps that were the good ones for me and the tyre, I couldn't take the profit.”

But there’s one good thing in his mind ahead of Saturday’s qualifying and sprint race: the fact he can now benefit from Ducati’s wealth of data from its other seven bikes to sit down and crunch some numbers with veteran crew chief Frankie Carchedi to try and find a more comfortable solution.

“This can help a lot,” Marquez added when asked about Ducati’s other data. “We have a lot of Ducatis faster than us, so yeah - we need to understand where they are, where we are, and try to find the correct balance for me, for my riding style.

“Maybe we need to go in the direction of some of them. We will analyse it.”

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