Lusail, Qatar: World champion Marc Marquez said there were no clear favourites at the VisitQatar Grand Prix to be held at the Losail International Circuit on Sunday.
Honda rider Marquez finished second behind Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso last season but Maverick Viñales of Yamaha and Alex Rins of Suzuki were the most impressive performers at the final pre-season testing at the same venue a few days back.
Marquez says all the manufacturers have made improvements ahead of the new season.
“Since 2017 I’m looking at everybody. I’m looking at all my opponents in the same way because for example in 2017, we were here and not a lot of people spoke about Dovizioso and he was the man to beat,” said Marquez at the first pre-event Press Conference of the 2019 season held at Losail on Thursday.
“This preseason it was interesting to see how Yamaha improved, Ducati improved, Suzuki improved with Rins and yeah, let’s see how we start this season. But of course, we will be very fast because we tested here, but the season is 19 races and we must be focused on our work, focused on ourselves and try and do what we know. Then we will see at the end of the season.”
Former world champion Valentino Rossi echoed with his arch-rivals thoughts, and suggested seven or eight riders were likely in contention for Qatar podium.
“It’s difficult to say because like you said, in the last years here I did good results. Apart from one victory I was on the podium a lot of times, so we have to try,” said Rossi, when asked if he thinks Yamaha are arriving in better shape than they did in 2018.
“But if I have to think now, maybe we have seven or eight riders ready for the podium. I don’t know if we are stronger here than last year because anyway it was a good race. But we’ll see, we have to try. Also try to understand the conditions, with the grip, with the wind, we’ll see.”
Rossi’s teammate Vinales said Yamaha can be in the fight for the win.
“For sure our competitors are strong right now, but we are closing the gap little by little.”
Dovizioso also suggested that “everyone will be strong here” because of the test, with Rins complimenting Suzuki’s work over the winter after a great end to the 2018 season.
“This preseason I was trying to be strong. I was trying to improve our Suzuki bike a little bit because the setup from last year was very nice. But we improve a little bit on the braking area, a little bit on the top speed area so this means Suzuki have worked very hard during the winter.”