Marc Marquez claimed his fourth straight pole at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin but the Repsol Honda rider feels he may not have things all his own way in Sunday's third round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Marquez, who won last time out in Argentina, narrowly held off Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, who closed to within 0.069s of the 23-year-old, while Valentino Rossi made it two factory M1s on the front row in third.
Traditionally, CoTA has been a circuit that plays to the strengths of the RCV but it seems the gap has reduced and Marquez is expecting a fight to maintain his unbeaten record in the USA, where he has won every premier class race he has started since 2013.
“We are again on the pole position but this time it is much closer, but we are happy for the pace of tomorrow. We already know that in the weekend it looks like the advantage was big, but we know that both Yamaha riders with the new tyre were quite strong,” he said.
“Me, with the soft rear tyre, I didn't feel comfortable but anyway it was a good lap time because with these tyres it looks like we cannot brake like last year, but anyway I'm happy with the final result. We will see tomorrow if the weather keeps like this and try to enjoy the race.
“If it's dry for me it will be the hard rear but the front is still a question mark; it looks like with the '34' I felt better and also tyre life looks okay, with '36' and maybe [Jorge] Lorenzo using this tyre I felt that maybe for the last laps it will maybe be more difficult,” Marquez added.
“I'm happy with the pace and the set-up but tomorrow we must reconfirm because this afternoon we did some modifications and I don't know whether it works, we will try tomorrow and in the race we will see, but both Yamaha riders look strong.”
Marquez says maintaining a high pace in the closing laps will be crucial and admitted he expects it to be 'tough' to come home ahead of both Lorenzo and Rossi.
“They are at a really good level, they are good riders, they already arrive from a good pace in Argentina and in Qatar, so they are very fast. Tomorrow will be hard to beat them but we will try to find the best way for the last laps but I think it will be tough to beat both,” Marquez said.
“The first target is the podium because honestly in previous years we arrive here very strong with a very good pace and I felt really good on the practice. This year I felt good but in the qualifying everybody is closer and also it will be interesting to see how is the Michelin tyres during the race but I cannot start the race and say 'this will be the fourth win'.
“The mentality is to win but if for some reason Jorge is much faster or Valentino or other riders, I have to understand and finish the race.”
The championship leader reiterated his satisfaction with the efforts being made by Honda to help improve the acceleration of the RC213V and has highlighted the upcoming European rounds as a marker for how competitive he will be overall this season.
“In the pre-season it was complicated to think about the title, especially in the first races, but always we believe and at the moment it is the same bike more or less as Qatar, but we are learning more and more and still Honda is working really hard to try to bring us more acceleration,” he said.
“I'm really happy with them because they are pushing so hard. It's a great motivation and I keep pushing 100 per-cent and it looks like at this circuit we can manage, but the question mark will be in Europe when we arrive in Jerez and Le Mans – this kind of circuit.”
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