Motor Sports

Marquez targets end of long winless run at Catalunya MotoGP

MONTMELO: Marc Marquez is primed to come in from the cold and end a lengthy winless streak in front of his home fans at this weekend's Catalunya MotoGP.

The six-time former world champion arrives at the Barcelona circuit bang in form after two runner-up spots for his new Ducati-Gresini team.

Marquez, without a win since October 2021, said on Thursday: "I'm still missing a little bit of consistency even if I feel I'm on the right path and that I'm getting faster and faster."

The 31-year-old's fire and form has been reignited since leaving long term team Honda for Ducati's satellite outfit.

He chased home world champion Francesco Bagnaia on the Ducati factory bike at Jerez last month and had only series leader Jorge Martin in front of him at Le Mans a fortnight ago.

"I'm really happy I was able to fight Pecco (Bagnaia) and Jorge (Martin) in Spain and France.

"I would be proud if I could fight for the title this season but I have to remain clear and ride intelligently."

Marquez goes into the sixth round of the season lying third in the world championship on 89 points, just two behind second-placed Bagnaia and 40 shy of Martin.

Last year in Catalunya Bagnaia had a horrendous time when he was thrown violently into the air after losing control of his bike with Brad Binder subsequently unable to avoid riding over the Italian's leg.

That 2023 race and the sprint 24 hours earlier was won by Aleix Espargaro who took the pits by surprise on Thursday by announcing his retirement at the end of the season.

A three-time MotoGP winner the Spaniard will hang up his leathers after a near two-decade career competing in more than 300 races.

"This is a special place, where I began riding, and where last year was a dream come true to me, so it's the perfect place to announce that I will retire from being a full-time rider" said the 34-year-old Aprilia rider. - AFP

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