Honda has had a tough start to the 2021 campaign, with none of its riders so far having made it to the podium in any of the opening four races.
HRC put most of its riders through a busy testing schedule at the post-race test following the Spanish GP, having recently admitted it is facing problems with its 2021 RC213V.
Friday at Le Mans proved to be a strong day for Honda riders, with Pol Espargaro fourth fastest, while Marquez was eighth and LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami 10th – with poor Saturday weather set to lock the trio directly into Q2 in qualifying.
Despite the strong start, Marquez admits he thinks Honda is still far away from ending a victory drought dating back to the 2019 Valencia GP.
“Last year my brother Alex came close to winning in Aragon and in the race here [in France],” Marquez said.
“For Pol [Espargaro] Le Mans is a circuit he is good at, he will go fast; Nakagami was also fast at Jerez. But honestly I don’t see any Honda rider close to victory.
“The first objective must be to make a podium and, above all, to put more riders inside the top five or eight. But I have full confidence and I’m sure that between now and the end of the year there will be some Honda victories.”
Commenting on his own day, Marquez admitted he was “struggling” in the dry conditions of FP2 due to his recovering physical condition following his nine-month injury layoff.
“My day was a standard day for my comeback,” he said.
“In wet conditions I feel not bad at all. It’s true it’s less demanding regarding physical condition and I’m feeling much better.
“On dry, I was struggling. I was riding and I stop in the box and I see P8 [on the timing screens], I said ‘OK, better’.
“But I was starting to try a few things on the bike, also in the second run, and it was not that bike wasn’t working. My feeling wasn’t good and then I stopped, I thought it was a problem on the bike but it was my problem.
“So, I’m still not precise on the comments. But this is my job, I need to improve there.
“About the new tyres, I just ride, I take care on Turn 1 to Turn 3, I take care on change of direction because I was struggling a bit, and on the hard braking points like Turn 8 I was struggling a bit.
“But apart from that, we know where we are and even like this we were able to be not very far from the top guys.”
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