Marc Marquez says his front tyre strategy worked to perfection as the Repsol Honda rider increased his lead in the MotoGP World Championship with a fourth straight victory at the Circuit of the Americas.
Marquez, unbeaten in the premier class in the USA since 2013, quickly took control after starting the race in Austin from pole and soon pulled away at the front, eventually winning by more than six seconds from Jorge Lorenzo.
The double MotoGP world champion opted to run the soft front tyre to enable him to push hard on the opening laps and although the tyre dropped off after 12 laps, Marquez was able to manage his advantage to complete back-to-back wins following his triumph in Argentina last weekend.
“It was not an easy race because in warm-up I tried the same front tyre that everybody was using, that was the medium compound, but for some reason I didn't feel great,” Marquez explained.
“In the race, thanks to my team and also thanks to Michelin, we chose the best tyre for me that was the soft option. I had the question because I know that we will be on the limit but okay, I used the soft one and I tried to use this potential in the beginning of the race and tried to take this profit to open this gap.
“I kept pushing during all the laps because I didn't know when the drop will arrive, but in the last five laps when I started to feel a big close feeling in the front, then I go to 2m 06 after the pace had been 2m 05, so we finished on the limit with the front tyre but it was enough - the distance that I got in the beginning of the race - to use in the last laps.”
Marquez could hardly have imagined he would be leading the championship by 21 points after the opening three rounds following a frustrating pre-season, but he feels the upcoming races in Europe will provide a clearer picture of his title prospects.
“For the championship we will see in Europe, because Jorge is really strong in these tracks but we are working hard and I think in every race we will improve,” he said.
“I remember the feeling of Malaysia when I was pushing 100 per-cent on the first day and I was 1.5 seconds slower per lap than Jorge, so that feeling was really frustrating.
“But the clear thing is that always I believe in Honda and in my team, they work a lot and they are still working because we are not at our 100 per-cent level with our performance,” he added.
“I'm very happy and it is great news for us in the team because in the pre-season we struggled a lot, then with the tyre in the first race we were far but it was okay.
“Then in Argentina we won the race and we were happy for the first victory but it was not a normal race, but here we won a normal weekend so I'm very happy with this and as always I believe in Honda and they are working very hard and my team is working very hard,” Marquez said.
“Still we must improve in acceleration because as we saw in the beginning of the race, Ducati and Yamaha are stronger than me in acceleration but I think we will improve in the future.”
A number of riders suffered front-end spills over the weekend on the Michelin tyres and Marquez says it is important to understand where the limit is with the new rubber, with a new set of challenges present at each track.
“The thing about the tyres is that we try to control the limit but the people always arrive at the circuit and have a different set-up from last year, so we must understand that this year we have different tyres and the riding style is different,” he said.
“Of course I arrive here on the first day and I was braking on the same spot as with Bridgestone and I wasn't able to stop the bike. We must understand that this tyre works in a different way and it will have some worse points and some points that are much better.
“They [Michelin] are working very hard and they bring here a new tyre to avoid this problem like in Argentina. To find the limit is difficult for example before the race I speak with the Michelin guy and they say to me that with the soft front tyre, between 12 and 13 laps it will be okay and it was like this,” he added.
“On lap 14 I start to feel a lot of close feeling but on the first 13 laps it was perfect, so always you must understand this limit.”