Marc Marquez: Honda no longer losing on acceleration
Marc Marquez feels Honda's MotoGP bike is no longer "losing on acceleration" after beating the favoured works Ducati bikes to pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.
Acceleration has regularly been cited as one of the Honda RC213V's weaknesses, with the Red Bull Ring's long straights and braking zones expected to exploit those shortcomings.
But Marquez, who qualified and finished fifth at the track last year as the top Honda runner, has so far been class of the field this weekend, and set the fastest time in Saturday's third practice session before storming to his third successive pole position ahead of Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.
"[It] looks like in this race weekend, honestly, we are not losing on acceleration," said Marquez. "We are like our competitors.
"We found a very good balance with the bike.
Repsol Honda Team's Spanish rider Marc Marquez competes during the third practice session of the MotoGP Austrian Grand PrixGetty Images
"Last year I was losing much more but I was riding without winglets, with a completely different balance of the bike.
"This year we're better with the bike, with acceleration.
"Of course, I'm losing in other points and I'm struggling a little bit, but I try to adapt my riding style to the bike.
"I'm very happy; I'm proud to be fast on this race track."
Repsol Honda Team's Spanish rider Marc Marquez competes during the third practice session of the MotoGP Austrian Grand Prix weekend at the Red Bull Ring in SpielbergGetty Images
Marquez said last Monday's post-Czech GP test at Brno had helped Honda to prepare for the demands of the Red Bull Ring.
"We prepared really well for this race weekend - in the Monday test in Brno, we tried many different configurations to just focus on this race track," he added.
"We tried to find different kinds of set-up, to understand which one works here in Austria, and honestly the team did a really good job.
"Since I went out in FP1 the bike was much better than last year."
While Marquez excelled in qualifying, his performance overshadowed a largely muted showing from the rest of the Honda contingent.
Works team-mate Dani Pedrosa had to fight through Q1 and eventually qualified ninth, one spot ahead of LCR's Cal Crutchlow, while Marc VDS duo Jack Miller and Tito Rabat ended up 19th and 24th respectively.
Crutchlow said Marquez has been "the king" of acceleration so far this weekend far, adding it was remarkable how much the reigning champion had improved in that aspect compared to last year.
Asked whether the acceleration gains were down to Marquez or the Honda bike, Crutchlow said: "I think it is a combination of both.
"He is riding fantastic in that area, really really well, getting the bike stopped, turned and getting out [of the corner].
"It's normally Dani's strong point - and he is murdering Dani."