Motorcycling - Marquez keeps expectations in check

Marc Marquez has played down expectations ahead of what he admits will be a nervous MotoGP race debut at Qatar this weekend.

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Marc Márquez

The 2012 Moto2 champion has been in scintillating form throughout pre-season testing with the works Honda squad, dominating the private Austin test and demonstrating frontrunning pace in both group tests at Sepang.

While such performances have led to glowing praise from within the MotoGP paddock - Nicky Hayden saying Marquez had the potential to change the face of grand prix racing –the Spaniard insists he still needs time to fully settle into the championship.

Double worlds champion Jorge Lorenzo was the last man to score a podium on his debut race when he qualified on pole and came home second at Qatar in 2008.

"Everything is very different on the MotoGP bike compared to Moto2 so we will need some time," Marquez said.

"Let's see when we get there, for sure I will be nervous going into my first MotoGP race but I'm also excited.

"We've had a good winter testing and now it's time to go racing.

"Qatar isn't one of my favourite tracks but I still enjoy it. There are many factors to consider there with the sand from the desert which affects the grip and also the fact it's a night race."

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa, bidding for his first world championship after narrowly losing out to Lorenzo in 2012, praised the team's winter preparations.

The Spaniard topped more days than any other rider in the build up to this year's campaign, but has never won in the premier class at Qatar.

"After a long testing period I am now really ready to go racing," he said

"The team has worked hard to get us in the best place for the start of the season and I'm pleased with my physical situation.

"It will be interesting to see how the new qualifying format works and really looking forward to the race. I'm just excited to get the season started."

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