Marc Marquez was torn between two strategies during the first MotoGP race of 2016 in Qatar, where the Repsol Honda rider scored a battling podium after succumbing to his competitive streak.
The two-time premier class champion felt the best he could hope for at the Losail International Circuit was fourth place, but he gained a position when Ducati's Andrea Iannone crashed out and then saw his opportunity to challenge Andrea Dovizioso for the runner-up spot.
Marquez attacked in the closing stages but a last-ditch pass at the final turn on the last lap saw him run wide, allowing Dovizioso to nip underneath and regain the position as the Italian finished behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo.
Marquez, though has a confidence-boosting rostrum finish to build on after struggling during pre-season and the Spaniard will be relishing the upcoming rounds in Argentina and Texas.
“The winter has been very hard for us because I saw we were one second, one second and a half from the top guy, and I was a little bit worried honestly,” Marquez said.
“But never do we give up, we work a lot and we know that we had many, many problems so we fix and work really hard and also Honda is supporting and working hard also from Japan.
“On the race, I was thinking to honestly finish fourth because I saw the difference to [Dani] Pedrosa was big and I say, 'okay, I finish fourth and Argentina will be the next race'. But then I say, 'if we are here, then I will try to finish second'.
“During the race was two mentalities, one was 'you must finish the race' and the other one was 'Marquez, come back and attack!'”
The 23-year-old made a big breakthrough with the RCV in Qatar but Marquez was still losing out in the final sector, with acceleration a particular issue.
“We worked really hard all weekend to try to find the best package for the race. We knew that we were losing a lot on the last sector, so we checked well which corner of the last section [was causing him to lose most time] and we saw that it was acceleration. We lose a lot there, even in the race, and for that reason it was really difficult to overtake Dovi,” he said.
“Anyway, I am very happy with the work of Honda, of my team, because they give their one hundred per-cent, I give my hundred per-cent on the track and in a circuit that two weeks ago we were one second slower, today we are here and we finished just two seconds behind Jorge [Lorenzo] in third position, so I am happy to come back on the podium.”
Marquez said his tyre choice for the 22-lap race at the Losail International Circuit was a simple one, with the soft option rubber unsuited to his riding style.
“For me it was easy, the tyre choice, because the front one, the soft one, after three laps was completely destroyed for me and the soft rear, because of my riding style, because I push a lot on the edge of the corners for try to make the lap time – I couldn't finish the race,” he said.
“So I chose hard [front], hard [rear], and I checked during the race that Lorenzo was with the soft rear, also Ducati, so I was thinking that maybe in the last laps it will drop, but the last laps they were faster.
“I am happy with the tyres, they [Michelin] did a really good job. It is normal that first time when you try the tyres, you will have some crashes, but we must remember that for many years we adapt the bikes to the Bridgestone tyres.
“Now we have different tyres but we have found the balance and you saw in this race the lap times were really fast and consistent during all the race, so I am happy with the job they did because I feel really great with the bike and now I can enjoy also.
“For me, I think you saw from the TV that it didn't change a lot, my riding style, because I am pushing a lot on the entry, sliding, I am braking the same or even later than with the Bridgestones – if I don't ride like this I cannot stay with these riders,” he added.
“So I didn't change a lot my riding style, maybe the top of the tyre is different and you have to understand, but for one lap, now we have found a good balance with the bike and I am riding the same.”