MotoGP World Championship leader Marc Marquez explained how he outfoxed Ducati to snatch pole position in the dying seconds of qualifying at Ducati’s home in Mugello.
The World Champion was sat down in seventh place when, on his last lap, he found himself sat behind Andrea Dovizioso, who was pushing for a lap himself. Pulling closer to the Italian over the lap, Marquez measured it to perfection, using the slip stream generated from the Italian to smash the outright lap record and take pole position by just over two tenths of a second.
“In FP4 we found something here and already the pace was there and it was something I had been missing all weekend,” said the 26-year-old. “In FP4 we did a big change and I found the way to ride.
“Then in qualifying practice I had the speed, but I immediately see that Pirro was following me all the time. So it looked like Ducati said to, to Pirro. So I said ‘okay, the second time will be a different way, I will follow them’.
“Then I did this kind of strategy and it works in a good way. In the first lap I was pushing, I was pretty alone, then Petrucci slowed down and Dovi slowed down, but I overtook them, even like this, the lap time was good.
“Then on the second tyre I said time to change the strategy and Pirro was waiting for me and this means Dovi was there also then the lap time was perfect. I calculated in a good way the distance, I did a very good lap time, but in the end the most important is tomorrow the race.”
When asked at what point he knew Ducati’s plan, Marquez said: “It was my feeling. I go out like always but Pirro was there. I slow down and Pirro was there. I just go away, Pirro go away.
“So I did my lap and Pirro was behind me in the first tyre. Then I stopped in the box and I said to Santi I will change the strategy and I will follow them, so that is what I did. I was waiting because Pirro was waiting, then I said ‘okay, now we wait Dovi and we change cards’. You play your cards, I saw Dovi was twelfth and knew he had to push to improve his lap time.”
Marquez has been battling a sickness bug all weekend and whilst being able to manage his health over one lap, he knew that 23 laps around Mugello would be tough. The Spaniard explained that he is feeling better as the days go on, despite his best efforts to pass the sickness bug on.
“It’s time for it to go on the right side (to Quartararo sat on his right in the press conference) but I feel much better,” he joked.
“On Thursday I was destroyed yesterday also was difficult, but today I feel better and tomorrow will be even better and this is important.
“On the race pace will be a hard race and long, with Quartararo especially. Yamaha riders have a good pace and Ducati riders have a good pace, but we are very close. We will see.
“We are suffering a little more than other circuits but the main opponents for the championship are also not good. Time to take points, time to breathe and think about the championship.”
After his dominant win in Le Mans, Marquez explained that the new engine in his Honda RC213V helped him ride in a new way. He explained that the new engine isn’t as effective in Mugello, with the Italian track being the worst for not only the Honda, but also his riding style.
“In Mugello basically the layout is all our weakest points,” he said.
“It’s there where we’re struggling more, but even though we’re struggling we are there, so this is the most important. Not only our bike, but also for my riding style, Mugello is my worst circuit.
“So I try to play and find the best way to ride and we are riding with a completely different set up compared to Le Mans, we are riding in a completely different way.
“We found in FP4 that it takes time, but the speed was there and I was not comfortable, but now we found the speed and I am comfortable. We know that we have a few riders faster than us, but we can be there and this is the most important.”