Marc Marquez lived up to the pre-season hype in Sepang this week after the Spanish rookie shrugged off a final day crash to set the fourth fastest time.
The reigning Moto2 world champion ended with a best time of 2.00.636 that put him just 0.094s behind Valentino Rossi in third and just over 0.5s adrift of teammate and pre-season favourite Dani Pedrosa.
He suffered his first MotoGP crash when he lost the front-end of his factory RC213V at the final corner but he walked away unhurt and returned to the track to complete his first full race simulation in gruelling afternoon heat and humidity.
He said: “I was lucky because it was a small crash. It was the first crash with MotoGP and I lost the front on the last corner but we know why we crashed because the bike became a little bit nervous in the braking point and it was not possible to go in. We started to work again with the other bike and even after the crash I feel quite good.
This afternoon we did a long run of 20-laps and the rhythm was quite good and I am very happy. What I saw is that you can understand more how is MotoGP over the longer run.”
Marquez’s race simulation was impressive as he reeled off a series of consistently fast laps in the 2.01 bracket, which included a best of 2.01.165. That was only 0.5s off his best lap of the whole test.
He said the long run had given him crucial experience of how a MotoGP machine performs with a decreasing fuel load and worn tyres and he added: “The race simulation was quite interesting because from the beginning I was interested to check my physical condition and on the last lap I did 2.01.6, so I was quite consistent.
I will be honest and say I am very happy because each day I feel better with the bike and this is the most important thing.”
Asked by MCN what was the biggest thing he learned in the race simulation, he said: “The biggest thing is that you have some problems and in the end of the race it is worse.
In short runs you can fix with your body but on the last part of the race, if that problem is coming worse with the used tyres and you are tired then it is quite difficult to manage the bike.”
For more from Marquez, see an 11-page MotoGP test special in the February 13 issue of MCN.