‘Worst start of season’ prevents Spanish duel
Marc Marquez missed out on the chance of wrapping up the 2016 season with a victory at Valencia after giving Jorge Lorenzo the inch he needed to take a mile in the opening laps of Sunday’s closing Motogp race – but he did pull off a cunning move with his tyre choice.
With Lorenzo showing rapid pace throughout the weekend, Marquez knew if he was to frustrate his fellow Spaniard he had to be on him in the opening laps, but any hope of that was ended after just metres as a dreadful start saw his front wheel fly skywards.
There is no doubt Marquez had the pace to fight for the win, as shown by his late-race charge to slash Lorenzo’s gap from five seconds to one by the end. Without crucial time lost in the first few laps, the sell-out crowd could have been treated to a very different race.
Honda rider Marquez played a clever game across the weekend by claiming he’d not had time to work with the new profile front tyre option Michelin had introduced in preparation for 2017. However, come the race he opted to run the new profile with the harder compound – something that enabled him to gain significant ground on Lorenzo in the closing laps.
“Today the biggest problem was the start,” Marquez said. “We had a problem; the clutch started spinning and I lost many positions – and that penalised me too much for the rest of the race as I lost a lot of time and had to catch up with Rossi and Iannone.”
While the start may have been his biggest problem, it wasn’t the only thing to hold Marquez back because the lack of acceleration that has plagued Honda all season was plain to see as he battled with Iannone and Rossi.
“It took me a long time to get past Valentino and Iannone,” he explained. “Not only is it very difficult to overtake other riders here, but every time I tried they would pass me back on the straight. Our weak point this year has been acceleration and I was losing out not only to Ducati but to the Yamahas as well. We must work on improving that this winter.
“Once I was past I managed to open a small gap, and from that point I started to push as if I had nothing to lose. I was catching Jorge but I started to see the laps remaining and the time, I told myself it would be difficult but I tried.”
Marquez may have pushed as if he had nothing to lose but, with the manufacturers’ title still up for grabs, this was not the case. Finishing second to Lorenzo was enough to see Honda take it, but a fall could have risked handing it to Yamaha.
While he wasn’t able to celebrate race victory in Valencia his team rolled out the title celebrations they had planned in case he took the title in Australia. However, with his triumph coming earlier than expected, they left him to celebrate in front of the thousands of home fans packed into Valencia.
‘I started to push as if I had nothing to lose and I was catching Jorge’ MARC MARQUEZ