Championship leader Marc Marquez says he adopted a different strategy of trying to pull away early during MotoGP’s Austria race in an attempt to separate the factory Ducatis.
Starting from pole at the Red Bull Ring, Marquez fought off early challenges from Ducati pair Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo – who also started from the front row – with forceful moves on the first two laps of the race.
He then tried to break away, establishing a lead of over a second at one point, only to be eventually caught by Lorenzo.
Lorenzo beat Marquez to victory by 0.13 seconds, while Dovizioso could not stay with the lead battle and finished third.
“I tried to change my strategy to push in the beginning because the goal was to try to finish with only one Ducati – because a fight with Ducati is always difficult for us,” said Marquez.
“We achieved our goal, to fight against one Ducati.”
Marquez explained that successfully splitting the pair meant he would at worst lose five points compared to the race winner, as opposed to the nine he would give up if he was beaten by both Lorenzo and Dovizioso – which had happened a week earlier at Brno.
The Red Bull Ring result left Marquez 59 points ahead of his nearest rival – Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who finished sixth – and 71 clear of Lorenzo, with Dovizioso a further point behind.
“In Brno I didn’t feel well, and then I just sat behind them [the Ducatis],” added Marquez.
“Here I felt well and I was not conservative, because my plan was to have one Ducati in the end, and if I lose points, I only lose five. It’s not the same, losing five or nine.
“I pushed with what I had – I had the hard rear, [which] I chose for that reason, and the strategy was good.
“We fought. We lost the fight, but we increased the [points] advantage.”
Marquez said he “nearly crashed” in his attempts to fight off Lorenzo on the final lap.
“I said immediately ‘I need to try’ [to defend], but every short straight he was able to overtake me, to be parallel, and it was really difficult to defend.
“Even like this, I tried to lead on the last lap. I led on the main straight, he overtook me, then I tried in Turn 3 [but] I lost the tyres, went in too fast and nearly crashed.
“He overtook me on acceleration on the outside because he carried more speed, but even if he didn’t overtake me there, he would have between Turn 8 and 9.”