Having registered its second winless season in three years in 2022, Honda was expected to be the marque with the most to test come the first pre-season outing of the year this week in February.
Indeed, Marquez had four bikes in his garage and three 2023-spec prototypes to try on Friday at Sepang. He finished the day 12th overall, just under a second off the pace, after 58 laps of running.
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After November’s Valencia post-race test, Marquez admitted the bike he tried was not capable of winning in 2023.
And while he remains reticent to make any definitive calls about the new Honda, Marquez admits he is still far away from where he needs to be.
“The feeling right now is the concept is more or less the same as Valencia, because it’s more or less the same bike,” Marquez said after the opening day of testing in Malaysia.
“Now tomorrow, next days we will start working and especially in Portimao something new will arrive.
“But we need to keep working in our garage, try to get more information, improve tenth by tenth because right now we are still far from the top riders.”
The eight-time world champion added that the steady start to test in terms of upgrades from the Valencia test bike was “a bit the plan”.
“Of course, you want more and you always want to be faster,” he said. “But already they said to me we will do step by step.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“So, you can evaluate the pre-season on the last day in Portimao. Still, it’s too early, I have many things to try.
“It’s like I say, we will not find half a second from one bike to the next. We need to work step by step to get closer to the top guys.”
After several years of injury woes with the right arm he badly broke in 2020 and which he had operated on for a fourth time in June 2022, Marquez says he is physically “doing much better” now.
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“Yeah, for me the most positive thing is that about physical condition I feel very good,” Marquez responded when asked about his fitness.
“I’ve started to play with the bike, I ride very well. It’s true that with all the riders, we are in the pre-season still, tomorrow we will feel a drop, the next day we will feel a drop.
“But this is normal for everybody. But I feel like we are in a normal shape.
“I don’t like to compare to the past. I’m like this and I feel good riding the bike, so I don’t feel any limitations, and this was the most important in this first day.
“I worked all winter for that. On myself we are doing a great job because we are doing much better.”