Risking it all for a podium place proved to be a step too far for Marc Marquez, the championship leader seeing sense in collecting a safe fourth place, even if that meant having to endure a nerve-shredding finale at Valencia.

Powerless to prevent title rival Andrea Dovizioso storming to a sixth win of the season, Marquez collected 13 points in “the worst conditions I could have had” to take a streamlined 21-point advantage to the final round.

Once Dovizioso had passed him for third on lap five, the 24-year old attempted to exert some pressure of Johann Zarco ahead in the hope of landing a podium finish. A moment at turn 14 soon brought the risks of the situation into focus, and forced him to accept a safe finish, and an exercise in damage limitation.

“I’m only human,” Marquez explained after his worst finish in MotoGP since, pointing to his lack of feeling on corner entry as reason behind his lack of speed. “You have a small movement and already you feel like you are about to have a big crash.”

Speaking after the race he said, “I felt really good after the race because it was like the worst conditions I could have had today. It was wet, so slippery the track and so difficult to find the limit because it was so easy to find a mistake.

“But anyway I tried. I started the race quite aggressive on the start. But I realised both Ducatis were faster than me and when I was catching Zarco I was taking some risks. Then I was thinking on the bike that it is more or less the same to arrive at Valencia 24 points [ahead in the championship] or 21 points.

“So I decided to stay in fourth. Something that was so important in this race was to try and be calm all of the laps and not to be rash. [It was important] To try and find my rhythm, and I already said on Thursday it’s a race to try and find a way to arrive in Valencia with better options.”

Explaining the difference between Ducati and his Honda RC213V in the rain, the current championship leader continued: “Today they were strong in the acceleration like always. But the problem is that one of my strongest points – the brake point and the entry of the corner –, I was not strong like the other races.

“For some reason today I had the feeling already on Friday, when I ride in wet conditions. The feeling was not so good. They are always very good in the acceleration side but we are very good on entry. The problem today was the entry.

“And honestly speaking, in the end I’m human and when you’re fighting for the championship, you have a small movement and already you feel like you are about to have a big crash. It’s something normal and natural and today, OK, maybe if I took more risks I could be champion here. But maybe if I crashed now would only be like eight or seven points [of advantage]. So it’s better to do it step by step.

“The pressure is there and you try to manage. I already said on Thursday that this is one of the racetracks we would have struggled more. We realised from FP1 that we would struggle here. I was trying to find a way.

“We didn’t make our best weekend because we miss a little bit the way to find the best set-up of the bike in FP3. Then we came back and today you can see the warm-up – OK, eighth position. But I was happy with the set-up and I was convinced I could fight for the podium.”

When it was put to Marquez that Dovizioso’s race was possibly aided by an inter-team understanding with Jorge Lorenzo, the Repsol Honda rider said the possibility of team orders in such a situation is “totally normal.”

“Honestly speaking, for me it’s totally normal. I mean, even if Ducati don’t send anything… I mean, sometimes it’s not necessary to speak. If you are a professional rider and inside a team, you feel the team, you are smart, you have experience, and you understand that your team-mate is fighting for the championship and you’re just fighting for the race. It’s totally normal and I completely agree with what they are doing and great job.”

 

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