Marc Marquez took full responsibility for a fall that dislocated his left shoulder on Saturday morning in Austria. The Honda star also believes that, despite the injury, he has the pace to challenge MotoGP championship rival Jorge Lorenzo in Sunday's race.
It appeared the title race was blown open minutes into FP3 as Marquez suffered a heavy fall when attempting to avoid a slowing Dani Pedrosa at turn three. The 23-year old dislocated his left shoulder and took a heavy blow to his right.
Despite a hospital trip for further checks, Marquez was back on track for FP4. While never in the running for pole position, fifth place in qualifying and a second row start was a satisfying result, all things considered.
“We are in the second row and I think this was the main target for us, even yesterday before the crash,” said Marquez, whose fastest lap of 1m 23.361s was just a third of a second slower than pole sitter Andrea Iannone.
“We saw the Ducati riders were very fast. Even the Yamaha riders here are very fast. The base of Ducati, I think they are one step in front. We'll see also the tyre life, and if they can manage it well.
“With the Yamaha riders, I think we are able to fight with Lorenzo. With Valentino I don't know because his pace is very similar, maybe a little faster than us. We will try to do our best to follow him.”
Marquez dislocated the same shoulder on the morning of the British Grand Prix in 2013. The injury didn't diminish his speed then, as hours later he sped to a heroic second place. In this case, the Catalan acknowledged that he was at fault when braking for the tricky uphill right.
“First of all it was completely my mistake. Dani was in front but he was far. He did a mistake, went wide and maybe he was slower on the outside line. Then I braked too late.
“I was going wide, which is a normal mistake in that corner. Unfortunately Dani was there, and to try and avoid the contact – if not it would have been a very big crash – I crashed. It was completely my mistake that I was going wide.
“The shoulder is OK. I dislocate my left shoulder but honestly the right one is more painful. The right one was OK, it was just the impact [that hurt]. It's not the first time that I dislocate it.
“When it's not the first time it's easier to go out, but it's also easier to go in. This was the positive thing. When I was on the scooter it was still out. But then when I was on the scooter it just go in.”
Asked whether he was braking to his RC213V's limit and beyond to eradicate as much of the speed deficit to Ducati as possible, Marquez pointed to the time lost on the exit of turn one as reason for his daring exploits on corner entry.
“I'm braking on the limit and riding on my limit. But it's always like this. For example, in T3 I feel really, really good because there's no low accelerations and I'm first in the partials. But then in the first partial I'm tenth. So I'm losing 0.35s, nearly 0.4s, to Ducati and 0.2s to the Yamahas.
“We'll see how we can manage the situations but this circuit isn't one of the best for us. We must understand tomorrow in the race but we'll try to be as close as possible to the Yamaha riders because at the moment we are not far.”
Saturday was just the third time in 2016 Marquez qualified off the front row. On the two other occasions – Mugello and Assen – he finished in the top two.