In part 1 of the subscriber notes from Aragon, I looked at how the podium happened, and its impact on the championship. But much more happened behind the podium, which also helped make the podium happen and affected the way the title chase is playing out. So here are a few more notes and thoughts from Aragon 1.
Returning to the podium, it is worth reflecting on exactly what Alex Márquez has achieved. The Repsol Honda rider's second podium in two weeks was impressive mainly for being set in the dry rather than in the wet, as happened last week at Le Mans. There was no luck involved, nobody crashed out ahead him. Márquez fought his way forward all the way to the leader Alex Rins. He came pretty close to catching him and passing him too.
The onboard footage from Joan Mir's Suzuki GSX-RR, viewable on the MotoGP.com website as one of the optional camera views, give a very clear view of exactly how Alex Márquez is riding. Seen from Mir's bike, you can see how much Alex Márquez looks like his brother Marc on the bike, despite being 10cm taller and a more slender build. His body shape and language was the same, his head dropped, his elbow held down and inside as he forced the front through the corners. It was an instructive view of just how far the younger Márquez has come.
What was clear from the onboard footage – and from the overhead footage from the helicopter as well – was that he had understood how he needed to get the bike to turn. Márquez is pushing the front and using the gas with the rear to get the bike to turn. That gave him the ability to get the Honda RC213V to hold a tight line and turn inside of the bikes which need a more sweeping line.
That ability had come through a better understanding of the bike, Alex Márquez told the post-race press conference. "I think I start to understand why everybody say that Honda is a difficult bike," he said. "I think it’s a difficult bike because you need to be strong in all the points. Not like Yamaha, they need to focus a lot to have a lot of corner speed and acceleration. Maybe also Ducati, they focus more on acceleration only. With the Honda you need to be strong in all the points, in the brake points, the corner speed, but also in acceleration."
There was no time to relax on the Honda, nothing the bike did of its own accord, Márquez explained. "This is the point that for that reason it’s so demanding to the rider, because you need to be always on the limit. If you try to relax a little bit you lose one second. Maybe with another bike you lose two tenths. This is why it’s so difficult and so demanding physically for the rider. I start to enjoy it. I start to have the bike in my hands. For that reason, everything is coming in a better way. I start to understand a little bit better, especially the front part of the bike."
The Honda itself had also made steps forward, though it was more a slow process of refinement rather than a big single step. New parts tested at Misano had made a difference, but they were just one of a number of factors which had contributed to the RC213V being more competitive.
"The improvement I think was not only from one thing," Márquez explained. "I think in Misano two, in Misano test, we tried some new things, small things that gave me a little bit more the confidence. Also we went a little bit more in the Marc ways on the setup. Now I have more feeling on the front and having a little bit more feeling with the bike. This is always good. Maybe the bike is a little bit more critical with cold conditions like Friday morning, where I crashed in turn two, but I feel the front tire more. We improved the turning a lot, also I think the grip."
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