Spanish motorcycle star Marc Marquez showed no signs of slowing as he advanced to the Moto2 class after winning the 2010 125cc MotoGP Championship.
The 18-year-old Marquez quickly adapted to the Repsol Moto2 machine, showing much progress over private winter testing.
At the final pre-season Moto2 tests in Jerez earlier this month, Marquez posted the second quickest time, two-tenths of a second behind Stefan Bradl.
Now Marquez reports he is ready for his first Moto2 race this weekend at Losail International Raceway in Qatar. In the following Repsol interview, Marquez discusses the upcoming Moto2 season and the challenges that lay ahead.
Q. We are starting this weekend. You moved up a level, and with good marks. You did your homework in winter and you are ready for Moto2. Are you nervous?
Marc Marquez says: "Not right now, but I’m sure I will be when the first race starts. I’m not nervous mainly because I enjoy the feeling of having had a good preseason. We achieved everything we wanted, we did a lot of progress and I’m confident that I’m ready for the first race. I might not be fully ready to fight for victory, because it is my first year, but I will do my best. I know that things will be different in the race than in testing."
Q. They say that winter is holiday time for the riders. Have you been able to stop at any moment?
Marc Marquez says: "Truth is that after winning the World Championship I’ve been going back and forth and I was not really able to stop. Just a week in Christmas to rest, relax a bit and disconnect, but I start to work and train immediately because I wanted to be ready for the new bike."
Q. Had you caught so many planes before? Could you give us a list of the places you have gone to?
Marc Marquez says: "I could not say all the list, because I’ve been to so many places. Portugal, several times to Madrid, Valladolid, Barcelona, but I also went to Finland, Switzerland, Austria… and there have also been places I have not been able to visit, such as Italy, because I had no time and Emilio [Alzamora] had to go in my place."
Q. What is it that you were more excited to do?
Marc Marquez says: "Specially to be able to meet champions of other specialties, such as Toni Bou or Laia Sanz, as you are never able to meet them and it is always exciting to talk to them about how their year went. Each place is different. Sometimes you have a lot of fun and others not so much, but being received by the King and Queen was also very special. Or when you are invited due to your victory to programs such as ‘El Hormiguero’ or ‘Buenafuente,’ which is so much fun. It‘s exciting to go everywhere."
Q. They say you even have an offer to run the Finnish championship of motorcycling on ice…
Marc Marquez says: "It was a joke with Aki [Ajo], more than an offer. But it’s true that I was fast and they told me I could compete in a race of the Finnish Championship. However, I prefer Road Racing."
Q. Do you remember November the 7th, 2010?
Marc Marquez says: "Valencia, isn’t it? It seems so long ago. All winter has passed and I did a lot of things, everything passed in a blur and I’m a bit tired. It was a very short winter that is nearly over and now I only think about Moto2."
Q. After all that, taking part in the World Championship and travel every two weeks to a different country might seem even quiet.
Marc Marquez says: "Yes, because it’s different to travel to the races or to test. Catching a plane to go somewhere to receive an award or for an interview and then back is a bit more tiring. What I really like is running with the bike and what I want is to be on the track, so you travel to the races in a different frame of mind."
Q. Your adaptation to the new class was very fast. Which was the key?
Marc Marquez says: "I’m certain that everything Emilio [Alzamora] taught me all these years helped me enormously. When I started working with him, at 12, we worked from the beginning, not only on how to take the line on the track, but when I stopped at the garage, he would tell me how I had to explain my feelings on the bike and what should I noticed when I was on the track. You see that it’s important to notice the differences you feel on a corner, when you are braking, on fast or slow corners, when you it the gas and so on. In the afternoon we would have a look at the telemetry data and, although I was very young, he would explain me many details and compare it with what the professional riders did. All that experience was really helpful."
Q. Last year we saw very fast riders in Moto2 that came both from MotoGP and from 125cc. Which style do you think would be most suitable to be fast in Moto2?
Marc Marquez says: "You need the style of a 4-stroke bike, taking into account the engine brake, the weight, and so on. You need to understand your bike and how to improve it to be faster. At the end of the day it’s just a bike and any rider can be fast in the end, both coming from 125cc or 250cc or MotoGP. What is really difficult is to make the difference so that you are among the top riders and be able to get onto the podium. To do that, I think it will be easier for a MotoGP rider, as he has already run with heavier, faster bikes with a 4-stroke engine and a lot of electronic devices… When you come from 125cc you have many things to learn, but it depends a lot on the rider."
Q. What do you need to be in front with so many riders on the track?
Marc Marquez says: "You have to work a lot to get a good pace and have a good understanding with your team. With the engines we use being the same for everyone and with very few differences on the chassis, you need to work a lot with your technical team, that has to be very good so that you can make the difference on track."
Q. To do so, the qualifying work is even more crucial to have a better starting place in a grid so full?
Marc Marquez says: "Yes, the Saturday session will have a huge importance to try and get the best possible place on the grid, which will also have three-rider rows. Anyway, you still need to work on your race pace, which in Moto2 is where you can really make the difference."
Q. This year the tire supplier is bringing new compounds. Do you think they will play a more important role?
Marc Marquez says: "Certainly, because it is the part of the bike that is in contact with the ground. As well set-up as the bike might be, if the tire is not the right one, the bike will not work well. Anyway, we have only two compounds available for each race, one softer and the other harder, so there will not be a huge difference. In any case, the new compounds Dunlop is working on are very welcome, because they help competition and they are also safer."
Q. With a bike so different from the 125cc, which aspects change more in the set-up? What do you focus on during the tests?
Marc Marquez says: "The set-up work is not so different from last year, because the things that change the most, such as the engine or the engine brake, are things that we don’t touch so much. During the test you usually work on the chassis configuration, suspensions and in choosing the best tyre, and that is the same with a 125cc."
Q. With all riders having the same engine, the difference, apart from the rider and his work with the team, is made by the chassis. Which are the stronger points of your chassis?
Marc Marquez says: "I could not say, because I haven’t tried any other. I have never run with 4-stroke bikes and I am still learning about mine."
Q. Who do you think will be the stronger riders of the class?
Marc Marquez says: "The ones we have seen during the preseason or that were strong in the last season, such as Simón, Iannone, Bradl, Takahashi, Redding, Corsi… They are riders that already have some experience."
Q. What do you think about them considering you as one of the favorites. Do you think you will be able to be on top?
Marc Marquez says: "I don’t know. If they think I am one of the favorites, it means I’m working well and that I’m on the right path, but this is not really our battle this year. If we can be among the fastest, perfect, if not, it’s ok."
Q. The first race will be in Qatar, a circuit where you had many set-up problems last year during practice. What did you learn in that race?
Marc Marquez says: "I learned that to win a Championship you cannot win all races. When you have trouble, you need to know that you must finish third or fourth and get some points. A year ago we did not achieved a good set-up and I was not able to be faster, I wasn’t comfortable. It was one of the few races we had trouble with the suspensions, but it’s also true that the team was very new, we had not learned enough from one another and we had not worked together for a long time. Nevertheless, we achieved a third position, that in the end helped us to win the Championship."