Marc Marquez debacle on Le Mans Friday: feeling lost

In the first four MotoGP race weekends of 2024, Marc Marquez managed to get straight into Q2 every time, and with the exception of the season opener in Qatar, he always managed to do so confidently. Training Friday in Le Mans was completely different for the resurgent MotoGP superstar: he didn’t get past 13th place in the afternoon training session, which was crucial for the division into the two qualifying segments Q1 and Q2. He was 0.679 seconds behind leader Jorge Martin and 0.279 seconds behind the tenth place.

The session started very badly for Marquez. After less than eight minutes, his Ducati ended up in the gravel at turn twelve and had to be pushed back to the pits by the marshals. “Today’s crash was the first where I overdid it,” analyzed Marquez on Friday evening. It was his seventh crash of the current season, but his previous crashes were all due to other factors. Marquez Schnitzer made several mistakes when operating the ride height device; in the American GP he fell after braking problems and in the Jerez Sprint he overlooked a wet spot on the track.

On Friday in Le Mans, Marquez admitted to a clear mistake of his own: “You can clearly see on the TV pictures how I’m struggling with the motorcycle. I wasn’t supple enough, my line wasn’t clean and I was leaning too much at that moment .” The four-time Le Mans winner would have had enough time to improve, but Marquez was unable to complete a fault-free lap.

“That was the first difficult Friday for me,” analyzed the Ducati newcomer. “Everything has been pretty easy on the previous race weekends, my pace was good and I was able to easily get into Q2. But here we have bigger problems. I wouldn’t have expected that to be the case at Le Mans. That can happen, however “We now need to understand what went wrong and respond accordingly.”

Marc Marquez at the Jerez test: The origin of the problems?, Photo: Tobias Linke
Marc Marquez at the Jerez test: The origin of the problems?, Photo: Tobias Linke

Marquez has already identified a clear weak point: “My problem is that I put too much strain on the front wheel because I have no feeling at the rear. That has to change, because with this motorcycle you have to use the rear wheel to its full potential. If you can’t do that, you’ll have problems – like I did today.” He and his Gresini crew had previously taken a new direction when tuning the Ducati Desmosedici GP23. The changed setup was used for the first time in Monday’s test in Jerez, was then also seen in FP1 at Le Mans and was finally used on both of Marc Marquez’s motorcycles on Friday afternoon.

Marc Marquez and Gresini: Hectic Le Mans Saturday ahead

You may have turned into a dead end in your search for more performance. “There are some question marks for us now. Maybe we have to take a step back,” Marquez himself reflected on Friday. He and his team now have 30 minutes in the second free practice session on Saturday morning to get back on track. Marquez then goes straight into a strong Q1 (10:50 a.m.), in which he has to fight with Enea Bastianini, Brad Binder and brother Alex, among others, for the remaining two places for Q2.

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