Alex Marquez has no doubts about when the turning point occurred during his rookie 2020 MotoGP season.
It came at the Misano Test in mid-September, which was the first chance since the start of the revised world championship for a day of track time without the pressure of a grand prix weekend.
Marquez was only eleventh fastest at the test, but his form took an immediate rise afterwards.
Just 17th place in the opening Misano race the previous Sunday, the Repsol Honda rider claimed seventh in the Emilia Romagna race that followed the mid-week test.
While Barcelona was a disappointment, Marquez proved it was a blip by taking a debut podium in the wet at Le Mans, then again in the dry at Aragon 1. The Spaniard was in contention to make it three rostrums in a row when he fell, for the first time in a MotoGP race, during Aragon 2.
“For me, the main thing is we need to separate the first part of the season until the Misano test and then after the Misano test was like a different Alex or different riding style,” Marquez explained.
“From Qatar I didn’t have the opportunity to have one day of testing with the bike, not to try many things on the bike, but just to catch the feeling.
“Because, okay in the Misano Test we tried many things, but for example the plan was only to make 60 laps and so in one point of the day I said: ‘Okay now we already tried everything, just leave me alone on track to try things on the bike’.
“Try to be smooth, try something for my riding style to improve some things and catch the feeling and the confidence that you need with this bike. This was the key.”
It is thought that Honda debuted the new Ohlins rear shock at the Misano test, but Marquez felt the biggest step came from him personally.
“It’s true that Honda made a good job and gave us good things to catch that feeling and confidence like I had in Malaysia, the first test, but apart from that I think it was a change in mentality, a change in approach. How to approach the weekend from Misano 2,” he said.
The reigning Moto2 champion describes his riding style as constantly evolving, but that the core principles fortunately suit the RC213V.
“I’m a young rider, okay already 24, but I’m in a period where every year my riding style is changing still a little bit and especially when you make the step from Moto2 to MotoGP you change a lot of things,” he said.
“Maybe with some motorbikes you change less from Moto2 to MotoGP, so it’s a little bit easier to adapt, but the Honda is a bike that you need to change quite a lot. So it’s different, but in the end my natural style is still there and is good for the Honda.”
The #73, who starts the final three rounds 13th in the world championship and equal on points with fellow rookie Brad Binder (KTM), said that he doesn’t delve too deep into the technical side of racing and is usually only interested in relative values.
“In Moto2 I knew some references from the bike but there are some riders that know exactly the rear shock, the rear spring, the front spring, everything!” he said.
“I don’t want to know that. I want to know if it’s harder, if it’s softer. I try only to know if it’s changing the geometry about front and rear also a little bit, I want to know where we are.
“But apart from that, I prefer to not know exactly what we are using.
“If we have some problem, starting the weekend, then I start to ask for example what Cal has or Nakagami or Bradl. But if not, I prefer to focus on me and not go into too much the technical decisions, which is the work of the team.”
Marquez will move to the LCR Honda team for 2021, when Pol Espargaro will ride alongside his brother Marc at the Repsol team.