Moto2 champion Marc Marquez believes he has a lot to learn on his step up to MotoGP with the works Honda team, but was thrilled with his progress in his first test at Valencia on Wednesday.
Bad weather at the Spanish venue meant Marquez had to wait until late on the final afternoon before getting his first taste of the 1000cc Honda. He completed 28 laps and was within one second of his pacesetting teammate Dani Pedrosa by the end of the day.
"In the end I began to get impatient and the track was drying up so we decided to go out," said Marquez. "In the beginning it was quite difficult but very nice to feel the power of the bike. I had a lot of wheelie on the straights but I gradually gained confidence on each exit and got faster and faster on every run.
"I tried to adapt my riding style from Moto2 because there was quite a big difference. There are many things to improve and try, the front tire was also very different to what I'm used to but the main thing is that we have had good start and I have a very good feeling with the team."
Marquez, 19, arrives in MotoGP having won the 2010 125cc and '12 Moto2 world championships. He is taking the Honda seat vacated by retiring double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner.
The last time a rookie's arrival in MotoGP generated such fervent anticipation, the newcomer's name was Jorge Lorenzo, and that hype proved more than justified. But Marquez is potentially even more important to a sport that even its greatest modern legend Valentino Rossi believes is currently at its "lowest ebb."
The tragically brief whirlwind of excitement around Marco Simoncelli's emergence as a front-runner in 2011 showed that when a talent or personality galvanizes the MotoGP fan base, hope can be restored to a series struggling to recapture the thrills, grid numbers of its glory days.
With doubts about whether Rossi can ever return to his best, the departure of the brilliant and divisive Casey Stoner, and the void left by Simoncelli still keenly felt, this is the perfect time to parachute a spectacular and controversial talent like Marquez into the mix.
His career so far has featured rumors of technical foul play, plus plenty of on-track spats, the latest of which (clashing with Simone Corsi in Valencia practice) set up his astounding 33rd-to-first ride in the Moto2 finale, a performance that captured the attention of the wider motorsport world in a way MotoGP, let alone its feeder series, rarely has this season.
While Marquez cannot boast Simoncelli's unforgettable appearance, the exuberance of his Valencia victory celebrations showed he has plenty of off-track showman potential to complement his swashbuckling on-track talent.
There are four-and-a-half long months before we'll finally get to see Marquez shoulder to shoulder with Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Rossi on a MotoGP grid, but the stories set to unfold once we do should be well worth the wait...