Slipstream or no slipstream, Marc Marquez has shown once again that he's a fox in every sense of the word, skilled enough to give lessons in both cunning and speed. The Spaniard broke the bank on Saturday, following Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati to score pole in front of a yellow/red crowd.
What more could you ask for in a qualifying session?
“My strategy today was both improvised and provoked – starts Marc – when I left the garage, I had the impression that Pirro was waiting for me, as if Ducati had told him to mark me. So I told Santi Hernandez to change strategy, and I went after Ducati, in this case Dovizioso. I know it's not the best way to score pole but today I had to do it. It's something that Rossi has been teaching us for us”.
The Spaniard played a nasty trick on Andrea Dovizioso then, his direct rival for the title.
“When I went out on track I was immediately quick with the first tyre. I passed Dovi, as I was aware of my potential and knew I could set a good time. On my second exit, I cam across Pirro again, as I've said, and in the end I saw Dovizioso pass and I got in line. Looking at the data, I think I gained maybe a tenth and a half. The result is key, but what counts is Sunday of course".
And what about said race?
“Dovizioso is probably the guy who stands out for me, as he's always been competitive at Mugello. I'm sure he's not really suffering like it may seem. I expect him to be fighting for the podium, along with Petrucci and the Yamahas of Quartararo and Vinales, who have good race pace”.
Although Mugello used to be one of the most complicated tracks for Marc, it appears the music has changed.
“This is one of those tracks where we've struggled more, but this year we're more competitive. Right now, it appears our rivals are struggling too, but like I say it's the race that counts. Personally, I can say that we made a big change to the bike in FP4 that allowed me to be fast, especially in the last sector”.
Even in complicated situations, Marc never puts a foot wrong.
“The team helps me a lot and keeps me calm at times like this. In this respect I think Valentino is a very intelligent and shrewd rider, I've learned a lot from him in fact”.
Lastly, we touch on the possibility of a 'simpler' Honda, one with which other riders could also be competitive. Something Jorge Lorenzo has complained about.
“The Honda has its character, but it's not that bad. Today there were three bikes in Q2. My health? I hope to pass my germs to Quartararo (he jokes). Wednesday was the worse day, I've felt better each day since and plan to be fit for Sunday”.
Audio recorded by Paolo Scalera