Marquez’s return bets on itself for season opener

On the eve of the season-opening MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix, six riders were asked about their championship predictions at the Lusail International Circuit on Thursday.
While most of them, unsurprisingly, had put their money on themselves, Marc Marquez was also holding a sign in his name before saying it with a laugh: “I always bet on myself. Even if I’m hurt, I’ll bet on me!
The Spaniard has endured a nightmare for the past two seasons but chose to see the fun side of it. The Honda rider broke his arm following an accident, which cut short his 2020 season, before being forced to miss the last two rounds of 2021 and sit out for three months when a concussion suffered in a training accident left him with double vision problems due to nerve damage.
During a period of uncertainty – in which he took three wins from 15 races out of 32 possible starts – the 29-year-old also considered quitting. But after ample rest and successful pre-season testing last month, Marquez is ready to challenge for the crown, which was won by Frenchman Fabio Quartararo on Yamaha last season.
Marquez is also chasing retired Italian legend Valentino Rossi’s record of seven top-flight world titles. The Spaniard has six and if he can stay fit and avoid crashing his Honda often, he can challenge for the title.
“Yes, of course, I’m happy to be here,” Marquez said yesterday.
“It’s already better than last year and that’s important. After the winter it wasn’t clear but it was important to test in Malaysia and in Mandalika, after Mandalika I felt a step in my physical condition and that’s important. Let’s see how to start the first race, for 2022 I want to fight all these guys for the title of course, maybe for the Qatar GP I’m not ready, during the weekend we will understand where we are, “said he added.
Marquez will race for the first time since 2019 at Qatar, a track where he has traditionally struggled and won only once. Although he is unsure of his victory this weekend at the Lusail International Circuit, he hopes the revamped and much improved RC213V can put him among the title contenders.
“They took a big step on the bike,” Marquez said. “Honestly, I feel like I changed brands because it’s a completely different bike. Since I came to Honda there have always been improvements but the character of the bike was always similar, but now it’s a big change, in Malaysia I struggled a bit but I felt the potential because in one lap the time was coming, but in Mandalika I was already bringing the bike to my riding style. driving and I felt a step. During the first races we will find small things, but the base is nice, that’s good, and yes we will see in the qualifying and race conditions where we are, “a- he declared.
Meanwhile, defending champion Fabio Quartararo will enter the new season with a whole host of uncertainties. The 22-year-old became the first Frenchman to win the title last season but things were less than ideal in pre-season testing as he put on a downhearted figure due to the lack of pace in the new motorcycle.
Quartararo finished on the podium 10 times last year, with five race wins, to lift the title, but he worries about the Yamaha YZR-M1’s lack of top speed improvement.
The signs were there last season when Quartararo struggled to keep up with the acceleration of the Ducatis as Italian Francesco Bagnaia won four of the last six races. To add to his problems on the track, Quartararo is also out of contract with Yamaha at the end of this season as he chooses to keep his options “wide open”.
“To be honest, it’s great to be back and when the season is over the weeks go by quickly, but when you’re about to ride in Qatar, the last week has been long and it’s great. “to be here. I think the pre-season was good, we expected a bit more top speed. That’s how it is, you have to give 100% in any case. I’m ready and I can’t wait to start tomorrow,” Quartararo said.
As rivals, especially Ducati, show signs of improvement in pre-season testing, Quartararo prepares for the toughest challenge to defend their world title. “It’s so difficult. Last year you could say five or six riders, but now I can say anyone. Of course the guys who are here today, but it’s hard to say We will have to wait a little longer to see the opponents clear,” he said.
The strongest competitor in terms of speed on the bike is Ducati’s Bagnaia. Last year’s runner-up has just agreed a new two-year deal that will take Bagnaia and Ducati to the end of the 2024 season. The 25-year-old will be aiming for Ducati’s first Riders’ Championship title since Casey Stoner dominated the grid in 2007.
The Italian heads into round one at Lusail on Ducati’s all-new GP 22 bike boasting more power than its predecessor which was untouchable on the straights last year.
“It’s always Ducati looking the best, but the last time they won was in 2007. It’s very hard to say if any other bike is better,” Bagnaia said. “I’m not saying Yamaha was better last year because Quartararo won. I think my bike and the bike for the last part of the season was the best I’ve tried, but I don’t know if it’s the best because I haven’t tried Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM or Honda . For me it’s the best bike, but I don’t know if it’s the best (on the grid),” he said.
As for Suzuki, ever-consistent 2020 champion Joan Mir finished third last year and the Spaniard will be in contention for the title once again.

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