The reply from Marquez came in loud and clear. After the controversy in which he was protagonist and the penalties (most recently in qualifying) Marc was keen to reiterate his strength. “I wanted to have my say on the track and I did” he said confidently after the win in Austin, the 6th in a row on the Texan track.
What happened in Argentina made him reflect and perhaps also made him stronger.
“This weekend I felt more pressure and more motivation too, but I felt good – he recounts – After everything that happened, for the first time I decided to change strategy. I don’t think I have ever ridden a race like this in MotoGP. Usually I wait and attack in the final laps, but this time I pushed from the start and got away at the front instead.”
It was a carefully prepared plan, so much that in the warmup, Marc reveals that he did a simulation of the opening race laps.
“I knew I could escape at the front. Starting 4th complicated things slightly, but I didn’t lend too much weight to those penalties. I pushed at 90% in the early laps and then, after widening the gap a bit, I managed the race. The only aspect that I didn’t like was being alone for such a long time” he jokes.
If in Argentina Marquez had been too brash, in Texas kept an ultra cool head.
“I’m human too and what happened had an effect – he explained – But I always try to learn from my mistakes and then think about the next race. Today I had everything more or less under control. I stayed focused and I worked to put my strategy into action.”
It was a special win with which he paid homage to Hayden and a child he met in Brazil.
“I wanted to do the honour lap with Nicky’s flag because he was a good friend and an important rider for America and for Honda. I felt like it was the right moment – he recounts – Plus, you’ll notice that when I crossed the finish line I made a gesture with my hands. I had promised a child I met in Brazil. I was there to help Unicef and one of the kids did a special dance, making that gesture with his hands.”
Now that Marquez has filed away his favourite race, he can look optimistically to the future.
“Riding this Honda has a sweet taste – he smiles – Last year, I only felt good on the bike from the GP of Barcelona on, whereas this season we started well right from Qatar. Getting back to the top of the standings was important. I am 2nd and only one point behind Dovi, but the important thing is the sensation in the saddle. It will be important to see how the Honda works on the European tracks, which are different from these three where we have raced so far.”
Right now, the Marquez-Honda duo seems to be superior to the Dovizioso-Ducati combo.
“We fear them like we feared them before – Marc warns – Last year they were farther back in the rankings at this point of the season, whereas Andrea is now in the championship lead and I am sure he will be strong in Europe.”