until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


What Marquez learned from his best Ducati ride yet

by Matt Beer, Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Marc Marquez followed up his worst day and a half as a Ducati MotoGP rider with arguably his best race performance on the Desmosedici yet - converting 13th on the Le Mans sprint grid to a second-place race finish.

A troubled Friday and scruffy Q1 was negated by a start he rated as the best of his entire MotoGP career. It was certainly a thing of beauty - the highlight being squeezing through a narrowing gap between slow-starting front-row man Pecco Bagnaia and Pedro Acosta.

But the majority of his route from 13th to fourth on lap one was down to his ferociously incisive progress through the opening corners rather than what he did off the line itself.

"A combination of concentration, luck, instinct," Marquez suggested.

He acknowledged that in an era of holeshot devices "it’s super-difficult to make the difference on the start because every rider, every manufacturer is starting in a good way", so his remarkable getaway was "what the people will speak about more" when lauding his race.

"But for me," Marquez continued, "the most important thing was the pace after that.

"The pace after that was something that was not there during the whole weekend.

"And in the sprint race I was able to ride in a constant pace, in a good way. And this makes me more happy. Even if I’d finished fourth or fifth but with that pace it would make me very happy."

With the caveat that winner Jorge Martin had the freedom to manage the pace as he wished during his lights-to-flag domination, Marquez's race times suggested he'd have been with Martin from the outset had he qualified better.

The gap between them was 2.077s at the end of lap one and 2.280s at the chequered flag and barely fluctuated in between, as Marquez's path to second opened up via a jump-start penalty for Aleix Espargaro and a crash for Marco Bezzecchi.

It was a stark contrast to his Friday struggle and unconfident qualifying, which Marquez puts down to sending his weekend awry with a set-up experiment that didn't work.

"Yesterday we did a mistake together with the team, going in a different set-up direction with both bikes for practice and then we were out in Q1," he explained. "And then in Q1 I was not confident."

Asked by The Race if the key to the stronger sprint was abandoning what he'd tried on Friday, Marquez replied: "It was coming back to our base and then of course understanding where was the direction of the other Ducatis, especially Martin and Bagnaia and what they were doing, because they know better than us. And we went a bit in that direction.

"And also we adjusted the electronics on this new base set-up and for the sprint race we did a big step on that point - the electronics - and this helps me a lot to be smoother."

Marquez has often this season referred to the point at which he might be able to start refining the Ducati set-up to work with his style rather than working primarily on himself to adapt his riding style to what the bike wants.

At Le Mans at least, it seems he needed to take the Demosedici's lead.

"For me the way to ride this bike is more sensitive," he said.

"There is one way to ride it. And if you see the video yesterday, I was fighting against the bike. And it was the first time I was fighting against the bike.

"And I cannot ride like this because you do not take the profit of this bike."

Now he's made that breakthrough, can he deploy Saturday's superb race pace on Sunday?

Marquez is far from certain he can get through the field so efficiently a second time.

"I feel like I have the pace to come back," he said.

"But to repeat the start of today is impossible. This is one thing.

"Then even if you have a good comeback, there are three or four riders that are super-fast. That is Martin, Bagnaia and [Maverick] Vinales. Especially these three riders. Plus [Enea] Bastianini."

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