Marc Marquez says his strategy worked perfectly as he extended his lead in the MotoGP World Championship following an ‘amazing’ race at Phillip Island in Australia.

The Repsol Honda rider bided his time before making a break for it on the final five laps, pulling clear to win by 1.8 seconds from Valentino Rossi.

It was a pivotal moment in the 2017 title picture as Motegi winner and Marquez’s closest championship rival Andrea Dovizioso struggled to 13th place, falling 33 points behind the reigning champion with only two races left.

Marquez said: “Honestly it was an amazing race and from the beginning I got out, tried to be quiet and warm the tyres well, and tried to be calm. But on the second or third lap, already there was the first contact from Johann [Zarco] I think, and I start to think OK, we will see during the race, but this will be tough.

“It was a big group like a Moto3 race and I enjoyed a lot, but I start to realise in the middle of the race that I needed to attack or they will overtake me everywhere.

“It was a little bit dangerous sometimes but in the end I attacked a lot and especially in the middle of the race I was trying to control where was Dovi, trying to analyse everything. Then when there was remaining eight or ten laps, I said it was time to attack, time to try to open a small gap. I was able to be a little faster and open a small gap and it made my life a little bit easier on the last laps.”

Marquez says his victory in Australia was a bonus, with the 24-year-old taking more satisfaction overall from his increased points advantage as he put one hand on a fourth premier class crown.

“Victory is important and it was more or less like the 2015 race with a lot of overtakes. It makes me more happy for the points advantage and it is a big advantage now, but now it is time to breathe and understand what is our options, where we can fight in Malaysia and Valencia, but try to take points and don’t be too aggressive,” he said.

“In this race track it is so important the tyre life and you cannot do all the laps at the maximum. I go out in the race and I did more or less the same strategy as in 2015, to be calm in the race and try and attack at the end. It was my job, my target, and in the end it was going in a good way.”

In a meeting with his team prior to the race, Marquez asked not to be informed of Dovizioso’s position, preferring instead to focus on his own tactics.

“Before the race we had a meeting and they asked me if I wanted to know where was Dovi, but I said no, I don’t care because I want to do my race, but then in the middle of the race I had a question mark over where is Dovi and I was looking behind trying to control him,” he said.

“Then I saw him when I was going out from turn 4, he was in turn 3, and I was trying to control him. When I saw that, it was OK and then it was time to attack. Before the race I knew it was an important race to open the distance and honestly, victory –I’m happy – but I’m happy because I have 33 points and it makes me smile more.”

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