Marc Marquez. Picture: REUTERS/TORO HANAI
Marc Marquez. Picture: REUTERS/TORO HANAI

MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez, feeling rejuvenated after shoulder surgery, drew first blood on Wednesday by being the fastest on the first day of the pre-season test in Malaysia.

In scorching temperatures Marquez, Spain’s champion in waiting, powered his Honda to log the quickest time of 1min 59.621sec.

“I have another spirit and it is kind of an adrenaline in my body and this is important,” he told reporters with a smile.

The 25-year-old reigning five-time champion who underwent a four-hour shoulder operation in December, completed 29 laps. Marquez said he was not going to push himself too hard in Sepang to avoid any setback in his recovery.

It is the first time the Spaniard has ridden a MotoGP bike since early December surgery and he focused on its engine performance.

He admitted he experienced pain during left turns and braking, forcing him to change his riding style. But signalling his determination to remain competitive in the opening race in March, Marquez displaced Alex Rins to second spot after the Suzuki rider led the test during the early part of the day.

Rins logged 0.259sec slower, while Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales, who stormed to a sensational victory at Phillip Island in October, posted the third fastest time at 1min 59.937sec.

MotoGP race riders from Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki are at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit. Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo is the only 2019 race rider absent, due to a wrist injury but is hoping to make the tests in Qatar on February 23-25.

The triple world champion will ride for Honda this season alongside compatriot Marquez after switching from Ducati.

Ducati’s Tito Rabat was fourth, followed by Danilo Petrucci also on a Ducati. Italian Valentino Rossi on a Yamaha finished sixth, clocking 2min 00.054sec. Rossi will celebrate his birthday on February 16, when the nine-time world champion turns 40.

The official first preseason test runs from Wednesday to Friday at the Sepang circuit. The season starts in Qatar on March 10.
AFP