Why MotoGP comeback king Marquez is struggling in qualifying lately

The Gresini Ducati rider is quickly adapting himself from the Honda he rode for 11 years to the GP23 he has now, scoring podiums in four of the six sprints and twice in the previous two grands prix.

But his last three weekend podiums have come after being forced to fight back from poor qualifying results, with his brace of runner-up spots in France happening after he started 13th.

At Barcelona this weekend, Marquez once again fell into Q1 after Friday’s practice and again failed to break into Q2, this time qualifying 14th.

It’s the first time since Britain and Austria last year that he has missed Q2 on successive occasions.

Speaking to the media on Saturday after carving through to second in the Catalan GP sprint, Marquez says he is struggling for speed on new rubber and it’s been an issue since pre-season testing.

“I mean, just it’s that when I pass two, three laps on the tyre I feel better,” he began.

“And we need to understand why. In Le Mans I was a bit with the same feeling, and here [at Barcelona] again.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“I mean, when it’s completely new tyres I’m struggling. I was struggling a lot already in the pre-season.

“Then I was able to compensate a bit in the first races, but then again now I’m struggling with new tyres and it’s something that we need to work on very deeply because if we start on the first two rows, or first three rows, it’s another race.

“When you start 14th, you are very penalised on your race strategy. At the moment we are able to save, but it’s too much risk.”

Marquez added that his feeling on his new soft rear at the start of the 12-lap sprint on Saturday “was terrible” and felt close to crashing.

“First two laps, the feeling was terrible,” he said.

“And then I felt like I would lose the front in some areas. In fact, in the first two laps I was even struggling to follow [Enea] Bastianini who was in front of me.

“But then on the third lap I started to feel the potential and then I started to attack the others.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“The most important thing is that the race, if you struggle three laps you have 20 laps in front.

“But I don’t like this feeling, because in the qualifying practice, you need to have that potential.

“If not, you cannot do anything and it’s there where we need to improve.

“It’s true that we need to improve a lot the Fridays. Because with today’s lap time I was starting on the third row. Still, this is acceptable on a circuit where I struggle.”

Marquez noted that a considerable set-up change for Saturday led to his strong sprint race form, though he admitted the lack of familiarity on his altered bike contributed to his Q1 exit.

“I mean, bike set-up we changed quite a lot,” he explained.

“It’s one of the good things to have fast Ducati riders inside the group.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“You analyse, sometimes they analyse and go in my direction, and this time we analyse where we were, we analysed where they are and we went a bit on that direction and I started to feel better.

“The problem of Q1 was it was the first time attack with that set-up and it was very different.

“But on the race pace, I kept going and I understood how to ride that bike because it was a big change.

“Too late because tomorrow we start 14th, but the race is long and with the medium rear tyre let’s see how we can manage.”

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