Motor Sports

Marquez eyes French MotoGP victory but plays down title talk

Le Mans, France: Marc Marquez approaches the French MotoGP emboldened by his impressive display in Spain where he finished second after a thrilling duel with two-time defending champion Francesco Bagnaia.

However, the 31-year-old is not talking up his chances of a seventh world crown – yet.

Plagued by injuries and then vision issues in the past few years some feared his best days were behind him.

For Marquez, though, the manner in which he first secured pole and then harried Bagnaia to the line in Jerez on his satellite Ducati-Gresini was another step on his way back to the top.

It was his best finish since also filling the runner-up spot in the Australian MotoGP in October, 2022.

"I won, in terms of my plan, in the path I have in my head, and I am getting better and better," said Marquez.

"Now I must maintain my consistency from the last few races."

Marquez, whose 59th and last win came at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in October 2021, lies just 32 points adrift of series leader Jorge Martin after four races.

However, he dismisses any talk of him being a title contender.

"For me, it is way too early," he said. "That is not to say I don't want to win the title, but it is too early to think of it because I know, and I already understood, I will have plenty of trouble on several tracks.

"We shall see, but for the moment it is necessary to approach the races like that."

Marquez, though, is surprised he is just over 30 points adrift of his compatriot Martin, who rides a Ducati-Pramac.

"I am really surprised because I had a terrible start to the campaign," he said.

"That suggests we are racing to our limits, that there will still be a lot of zeros and the title race will be very close.

"For me, it is already a source of pride to be battling with the Ducati leaders."

Jerez was also equally significant for Ducati factory rider Bagnaia as he had not won since the season opener in Qatar. He is now just 17 points off Martin.

The 25-year-old is seeking a third successive world title.

If successful he would be the first Italian to be a triple world champion on an Italian manufactured bike since the legendary Giacomo Agostini won his third (1966) of eight titles on the MV Agusta.

"Our goal is always to win," Bagnaia told Speedweek.

"The season is long, and even though Jorge Martin took a lead at the start, I am confident in our ability to come back. We closed the gap, and every race counts."

Bagnaia – a superstitious type who will as ever go through his pre-race routine "touch the bike, kiss my glove and tap the tank as it calms me down" – said this year's campaign reminds him of his first championship winning year.

"We have collected a lot of data that should help us overcome the current problems," he said.

"This is a similar situation to 2022, and I am confident we will succeed."

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