“I am ready to fight for the podium during the 2023 season”

7 minutes

Gabriel Marcelli’s first year with the Repsol Honda Team resulted in a fifth-place finish in both World Championships. He reflects on the season and looks ahead to 2023.

“I am ready to fight for the podium during the 2023 season”

– How have you felt in your first year on the Repsol Honda Team and what is your assessment of the season?

“I’m very happy with the team; they have looked after me a lot throughout the year, I have had good parts… At the beginning of the season I would say that perhaps the expectation weighed on me more than necessary: I had some pressure at the beginning, but as the season progressed I have been assimilating my new position, let go more and was able to ride at the level that I think I really have.”

– What has been the best thing about 2022?

“The family that is being created in the team. I’m very happy. We are managing to form a good team that helps me improve and raise my level. The word that defines it is ‘harmony’. This tranquility allows me to improve.”

– And the worst?

“The injuries. It has been a season of injuries. The ankle fracture, the infection and then, in Pobladura, I hurt my wrist. We didn’t give it much importance at the time, but it still bothers me when riding. There have been three major injuries that have prevented me from improving.”

– What is the difference between you and Toni Bou?

“Right now, in terms of the bike there are no differences. I have everything I need and want. What I need is to take that little step to get closer to Toni. He has a lot of experience after so many years. The objective is to train harder than ever, get a good bike setup and improve.”

– How does Toni help you?

“Toni supports me a lot. He helps me a lot and he is very humble. As a teammate he is first class. If I need help to set up the bike, he doesn’t hold anything back. He has always obliged when I have asked him for advice and hopefully I can challenge for a title against him. I think that this is the objective for Repsol Honda Team and also my objective.”

“At the start of the season I put too much pressure on myself”

– How different is this bike from the one you rode for when you started at the Montesa Talent School?

“There has been a great evolution. From 2016 to now, a lot has changed. Even from last year to this year, I had a good bike before and now it’s much better. It has been a qualitative leap in terms of the engine, because in terms of suspension and chassis not much has changed.”

– What was it like to finish the year with a win in the Spanish series?

“The same thing happened to me as in the TrialGP World Championship: Steady improvement. Going into the season I put too much pressure on myself. As the season progressed I absorbed things a little more and saw the chance that I really had. In the final races I felt strong, I was cutting the gap to second place and I won the last race, coming very close to taking the runner-up spot for the year.”

– What is the goal for 2023 in the national series?

“To begin the same way that we ended 2022: Fighting for victory at every race. It would be nice to start like this and improve the results as the season progresses. I prefer it to be like that, rather than starting strong and then dropping points throughout the year.”

– The 2022 X-Trial World Championship started without you. You joined in the second race. In Madrid you could see that you were on the pace.

“I started with a lot of nerves and with a disadvantage. It’s an intense championship, with races with very little room to show what you can do. The first race I had didn’t go well for me, but in Madrid I relaxed more and things turned out well. I had a crash in which I injured my foot and a fortnight later I had to race in Barcelona and, obviously, things did not go as expected. We knew we weren’t arriving in optimal conditions, but we scored points. In the rest of the rounds I felt better. I made some mistakes, but I consider that I rode at a good level and showed that I could be at the front and that I am prepared to fight for podiums throughout 2023.”

– In TrialGP it has been difficult to get into the Top 5, but in the end you finished fifth.

“In the outdoor World Championship, all the riders surprised me with how strong they were. A sixth place was not acceptable. During the year it got better, but before Germany I was in the hospital for more than a week due to an infection in my leg and I couldn’t train for fifteen days. I did not arrive in the best condition. I was able to do the race and finish better than expected. In the final rounds of the World Championship I felt better, riding at a higher level. I got three 4th places. For 2023 the objective is not to drop below the top 5, to be consistent and to try to be on the podium in as many races as possible.”

– Psychologically, how do you go about preparing for the competition?

“I was about to go to a sports psychologist in the middle of the season. I had already been with one a couple of years ago. I applied some “tricks” in the races… But in the end I decided not to go, and I hope to continue like this because it will mean that things are going well and I don’t need that external support.”

– You were recently in Japan for the Honda Thanks Day. What did it represent for you?

“It was special. Toni and Fuji had already told me what it was about. Being able to be part of the ceremony was something unique. It is nice on the part of HRC and Honda because it gives you the chance to meet the Honda family.”

– What was it like to meet Marc Márquez, Max Verstappen and ‘Checo’ Pérez, Gasjer, Brabec and Quintanilla?

“You are with the ‘crème de la crème’ of motorsport. It is a dream come true and spending several days together makes you feel a little more important for being one of them. It gives you a boost in motivation.”

– What can you tell us about the improvements on the bike from HRC?

“There are no big changes and the bike is quite similar to this year’s. We have tested some engine and clutch settings, which is the only thing we want to improve because everything else works perfectly. As always, there are parts that work better than others. Being there with the Japanese and transmitting directly to them what we are looking for is very positive. They are going to work more to make new parts.”

– What do you want from 2023?

“I hope to start as I finished 2022 in terms of performance and results, and to improve more and more. If we start at the level with which we ended this year, I will be happy.”

– Do you have a message for the fans?

“Merry Christmas to all the fans and supporters of the team.”

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