Marc Marquez began Saturday at the Dutch MotoGP by saving a massive front-end moment in morning practice.
The wet afternoon qualifying session then saw the world championship leader fall on his out-lap, before commandeering a trackside scooter to get back to the pits!
“it was the scooter of Tino, the photographer,” smiled Marquez, when asked about the incident in the paddock. “After I fell the first target was to get back to the box. There was nobody there to take me back and I saw one scooter with the keys in!
“When I turned the scooter around I saw Tino and I ask if I can take it. He said 'ok' - but honestly if he say 'no' I would continue!”
The Repsol Honda star returned on his spare bike to claim fourth on the grid, with a lap time 1.184s from Ducati pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso.
“The scooter and the team did an incredible job because the second bike was [originally] set-up for dry conditions and intermediates. These two things mean that tomorrow I can start on the second row, from fourth position.”
Marquez said he couldn't explain why he had fallen at such low speed, and fears a repeat should the race be held in similar wet conditions.
“I think if you ask to any rider that crashed [today] they will say 'I don't understand' because the track was very, very slippery,” he said. “Maybe it was because I wasn't fully concentrating. I don't know. But I was riding slow just to warm the tyres before I push and I lost the front.
“I know it was a big mistake because at that moment I was last. But I was not pushing. For tomorrow if it's wet race it will be difficult because, like we see in FP4, many crashes.”
And what about the massive morning save?
“That moment was a little bit scary and honestly I lost confidence there,” he said. “I started FP3 with good confidence. Pushing a lot. Good lap time. Good rhythm. Then we tried a different set-up on the bike, but it is not normal to have that kind of 'near crash'.
“From the first point of braking the front wheel locked, then I released the brakes and it was a big moment. After that I lost a lot of confidence. Maybe it was because I was riding with the medium front tyre and everybody else was riding with the soft. For the guys that rode with the medium front in the morning - like Lorenzo, Espargaro, me - it was more critical.”
Marquez agreed that bumps in the braking area may have been a factor in terms of unloading the tyre.
“Yeah, one of the problems we have this year is that the front always feels a little bit light,” he said. “And it's true that at that point it is a little bit bumpy, plus the front is a little bit light, at full gas in fifth gear.
“On the data it looks like when I first touched the front brake the front wheel was not exactly on the ground. So then I have this big problem.”
The forces generated in the incident were so big that Marquez's air bag system was deployed, even though he stayed on.
Marquez starts Sunday's race with a ten point advantage over Jorge Lorenzo, who qualified in eleventh. Valentino Rossi, winner last time in Catalunya and last year at Assen, will start from second place.
By Peter McLaren