MotoGP World Championship leader Marc Marquez said that he felt that race winner Andrea Dovizioso was playing with him during their head-to-head battle at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
The pair were locked in an intense, but fair battle throughout the entire race in Spielberg. The Spaniard looked as if he had the race wrapped up, when a last-gasp pass from Dovizioso into the final corner of the race saw the Italian take the spoils.
Despite looking like he could’ve very easily won the race, Marquez felt that Dovizioso was playing with him at multiple stages in the race.
“It was a great battle because we respect each other, there was a small contact in the last corner, but it’s part of racing and it’s something I like,” said the 26-year-old.
“Honestly speaking, we did a mistake, or we didn’t perfectly understand the conditions with the rear tyre option. But anyway, Dovi did a great race. I already check that on the last six or seven laps he was playing with me, he closed gas on the straight sometimes, he had much better grip in the exit of the corners.
“I was stronger on the brake points, but the brake points is where you take lots of risks and then I say okay, we will try, but until our limits, we will not do anything crazy. For that reason, I start the last lap in front, to try and defend because I was not able to attack. But even like this I have a small chance to win the race, but I try, it was not possible.
“The most important is we struggle, but we finish together with Dovi in the final lap, so this is the most important for the championship.”
The battle between the pair started on the opening lap, where the pair both ran wide going into turn three. This allowed Quartararo, Rins and Miller to join them, leaving Marquez with work to do in order to get back to the front.
Marquez said that he knew after the first corner that he knew he didn’t have the grip, but didn’t want to let Dovizioso get away at the front.
“Already I go out from the first corner and say the grip is not there, but then I knew Dovi was with the soft and on the straight he overtook me,” he said.
“But we arrive together in turn three and I said when he will brake, I will brake. I saw that it was late, but I say okay we will go wide together, so this was the main reason I was able to stay more or less inside.
“But then I had a big wheelie on the exit, and I lose the front in the middle of the straight and I lose many positions, but I come back in a good way. I push in the middle of the race, but then is say ah, the tyre is not there. Then he overtook me on the straight again, and we start to play, but he had better pace today.”
2017 saw Marquez make a dive up the inside of Dovizioso in the final corner of the race, on that occasion, Dovizioso knew it was coming and cut back to out-drag the Spaniard to the line. When asked if he was expecting the move, Marquez said: “I was expecting on the uphill, but already I listened, and he was very close. But then I say if I go in too fast, he will overtake me before the finish line, because I didn’t have the drive, I needed to keep the corner speed.
“So, I tried to choose the middle, and then when he overtook me, I said okay, I was thinking that I was able to stop the bike and come back like he did two years ago.
“But then my brake protection level was attached to his leathers or some part of his bike, so I was going wide with him because my bike was going with his bike. I was thinking I will crash, but fortunately that piece broke and I was able to stop the bike well and not crash. But yeah, a small contact that that piece of the brake level was attached somewhere to his bike.”
Today also saw Marquez run with the new chassis in a race for the first time. He has been testing it since Barcelona, however, he decided today was the best time for the new piece, explaining that he felt it was helping him go faster in Austria.
“Because we try on Friday and the feeling we better, so for that reason we use,” said Marquez.
“On the potential on the race track was better. Maybe in Silverstone we will compare again, because the current chassis also have very positive points. It was just because on Friday we saw it had positive areas.”