Honda is now in a race against time to make a breakthrough with its troubled RC213V with just one day of testing left before the 2023 season starts.
Top Honda honours on Saturday at the Portugal test went to LCR’s Alex Rins, who was 11th and almost a second off the pace, while factory duo Joan Mir and Marquez (who both suffered crashes) were 14th and 19th respectively.
Marquez ended February’s Sepang test admitting he doesn’t have a bike capable of fighting for the title in 2023, and reiterated Honda’s struggles after Saturday’s running in Portugal.
“Today we finished with exactly the same bike as in Malaysia,” Marquez, who completed 78 laps on Saturday, said when asked if his mood had changed in Portugal about the Honda compared to how he felt at Sepang.
“It’s the best package that I’ve found here, so still we are far from the top guys but now in this part of the year we haven’t started the season.
“Honestly, we cannot be very optimistic about the result, but you don’t gain anything by being angry.
“So, tomorrow with the base we have we will try to find the best set-up, the best rhythm, the best lap time and try to look for the best in every situation.”
Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Team-mate Mir was equally downbeat about his feeling on the Honda on Saturday, adding: “I will not lie, I don’t feel really good actually. Today was a tough day.
“I’m still not having the best feeling with the bike and we are trying to understand what I need to go fast, what we need overall, and try to make small steps to get a bit closer to the top guys.
“At the end of the day, I was improving my lap times a little bit but then I crashed in a sector that somehow we struggled a lot in.
“The good thing is in some sectors I am fast, in some I am not. So, it means that we have to understood those types of corners where we lose performance.”
Mir says he is struggling to understand the power delivery of the Honda at the Algarve track, while a new chassis didn’t offer much of an improvement – especially with turning.
Marquez echoed these comments about the chassis and has decided that his preferred frame is “the one I used in Sepang” for the time being.
The eight-time world champion also complained about Honda’s “harsh” new clutch on the 2023 bike, which contributed to several wild practice starts for him at the end of Saturday’s session.
“It’s there where we…
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