It was drizzling most of the day but that did not stop Team Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez from delivering his best in the MotoGP qualifying round of the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Circuit here on Saturday.
The 26-year-old nicknamed the ‘Thunder of Cervera’ in his hometown was not pleased with the set-up of the tyres and the machine the other day. But the team quickly got it sorted out, and Marquez found his magical form from there.
The track was quite slippery. It did trouble quite a few riders but not the six-time champion, who showed better grip and balance than the rest. And, he went back to the pits merrier, having clinched his first pole ever at this circuit. With this gutsy show, Marquez’s calendar was also complete having won the pole at every circuit this season.
Marquez had finished second in FP3 with 1:54.884 but he dominated the next like never before to stop the clock at 1:48.940 and, with it, topped the charts.
That sort of upped his confidence going into the qualifiers.
He started the qualifying round rather quietly and kept moving up the table. In the fourth lap, he stunned the field clocking 1:45.794 to take the top slot.
Known to be a master at the corners, Marc leaned quite far over on his bike to time 1:45.763 in the eighth lap to finish on pole. And, the over 40,000 crowd and the rest of his team came up with a round of applause befitting a World champion.
The riders had switched to slick tyres as they found the dry line and that reflected on their timings.
“It was a tricky day for everybody as it was both wet and dry. FP4 was different due to the conditions of the track, but in the qualifying it turned nice and I was pushing more,” said Marc.
Fight for the podium
But, he said, Sunday could be quite different.
“It’s going to be tough, honestly. We are not at our best and so are the weather conditions, but that’s not going to stop us from fighting for the podium. We will try everything,” he said.
In terms of tyres, he said it was more crucial to understand which compound was the best for these conditions.
“It will be nice if we can quickly find the right option on the race day,” he added.
(The writer is in Motegi at the invitation of Honda India Racing).