Alex Marquez says he “never stopped believing” top results were possible during what has been a character-building maiden MotoGP campaign with the factory Honda team.
Marquez put on an impressive display of wet-weather riding to secure a debut premier class rostrum in only his ninth start in the French Grand Prix, climbing from 18th on the grid to take the runners-up spot in the race-just 1.2 seconds away from race winner Danilo Petrucci.
The Spaniard reckoned he “needed a better position on the grid” to have seriously challenged the Ducati racer for victory, earmarking an improvement in dry weather pace as his main target going forwards over the final five races of the year.
“I needed a better position on the grid (to challenge for the win), this was the main problem because starting from 18th was tricky at the beginning and I lost a lot of time trying to overtake, first Cal (Crutchlow) because he was able to brake so late and then also with Pol (Espargaro) and (Andrea) Dovizioso,” explained Marquez.
“However I was happy to be a part of that and I did a good race, it’s great to get our first podium of the season, the Japanese (Honda management) need it.
“We’ve worked hard all year believing this was possible, and now the next target is to be able to do this kind of race in the dry and be close to the top.
“We are coming all the time step by step closer to the front.”
Marquez conceded that he had hoped to acclimatise quicker having made the step up into MotoGP as reigning Moto2 world champion, but says he instead focussed on setting realistic goals rather than going for early glory.
“It’s always hard when you come from Moto2, but as the champion you always expect a little bit more,” added Marquez.
“I put realistic objectives on myself from the beginning, and I was hitting them so I felt that if I could get more then great, if not then I just needed to keep working harder to achieve better results and this is what we did.
“I never stopped believing, we’ve been working hard all weekend and we’ll keep pushing over the next five races to try and improve in the dry and be ready for next year.”
Marquez’s previous best result on the RC213-V was a seventh in the attrition-hit Andalucian GP at Jerez, while his best qualifying efforts to date have been a pair of 17ths at the Styrian and Emilia Romagna events.
His runners-up result has given him a significant boost in the riders points standings, having shifted him up to 14th overall on 47-now just 11 behind seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, while top rookie challenger Brad Binder is now just 15 points ahead.