Marc Marquez said he didn't have anything else left during his pursuit of race leader Valentino Rossi in Sunday's Malaysian MotoGP.

With both riders 'on the limit', Marquez's only plan was to try and stay in contact with the Italian and then improvise a late attack.

Instead, victory was handed to the Honda rider when Rossi - without a win since Assen 2017 - made a mistake at turn one with four laps to go.

"The plan was just to try to be there at the end!" Marquez said. "I mean, I didn't have anything more. We were both riding on the limit. A really fast pace.

"I was just riding by instinct, not by using my head, and pushing on the limit.

"I was fighting against myself and the bike to be as close to Valentino to attack in the end.

"But he was on the limit too and I saw he was starting to struggle, but there were only 4-5 laps left so it would be very close, because our level was very equal.

"I nearly crashed 3-4 times during the race, but when I was only six tenths behind he did a mistake because he was a little bit wide and when you are fighting like this you don't want to lose any time, so he tried to come back on the line too quickly and crashed.

"When I saw that Valentino fell, my body just relaxed and I was riding in another way, because both of us were pushing a lot.

"It was a similar race to Motegi with Andrea [Dovizioso]. We were fighting, fighting, fighting. Not many overtakes but we were both riding on the limit.

"I saved two or three crashes with my elbow, so I was struggling and fighting against my bike."

Did Marquez feel any disappointment that the victory battle was over prematurely due to Rossi's fall?

"No, of course I'm happy because I won. It doesn’t matter the way that you won, I mean you want to win. Of course if you win on the last corner of the last lap the feeling is different.

"But today was an extremely hard race because I felt like we did a great job all weekend, but we didn't have the perfect bike in the race.

"Of course if you are already champion then you don’t have that extra pressure so I was pushing on the limit in the brake points.

"I had Valentino in front and also Johann [Zarco] pushing from behind, but the motivation was to try and win at a difficult circuit for us.

"We achieved it, so this is the most important."

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Demoted from pole to seventh after a grid penalty for obstructing Andrea Iannone in qualifying, Marquez had fought his way through the field to sit second behind Rossi by lap 5 of 20.

But rather than sweep past the Italian and into the distance, Marquez paid the price for pushing so hard in the early stages and hit tyre overheating issues, ceding ground to Rossi during the middle of the grand prix.

The Repsol Honda rider then rebuilt his pace and was 0.6s from Rossi, fuelling memories of their infamous 2015 encounter, when the Yamaha rider fell.

"It was a very, very hard race," Marquez said. "First because we started from seventh place, so that was an extra motivation because I'd never won from the third row.

"The first lap was not the best of my career and I had to overtake some riders, but then I saw that Valentino was pushing really hard from the beginning.

"So I pushed too, but I was riding like qualifying and I overheated my tyres.

"After I overtook Johann [for second] I started to struggle a lot. It looked like Valentino was very close, but I started to feel uncomfortable, I lost the front in the last turn and saved it with my elbow…

"Then I said, 'okay, cool down, try to be smart and understand the situation with the tyres'.

"I did that and step-by-step I started to feel better and could see I was catching Valentino tenth-by-tenth and that was an extra motivation, when you are catching the rider in front."

But Marquez admitted it would have been a different kind of race had he not already wrapped up the 2018 riders' title?

"If I was still fighting for the championship against Dovizioso, today my position was third or even fourth. Maybe second. But it was not fighting for victory.

"I mean, you saw during the races all season I saved maybe one time, one crash. But this race I saved 3-4 times. But like I say, there was some extra motivation and for that reason I kept pushing all the race."

Marquez also saluted the efforts of Jorge Martin and Pecco Bagnaia who won the Moto3 and Moto2 world titles, respectively, on Sunday.

"To finish I would like to congratulate the two world champions, who are 'the men' today, Jorge Martin and Pecco Bagnaia. They deserve it and we'll celebrate together in Valencia."

Marquez's ninth victory of the year also meant Honda added the constructors' title to the riders' crown and is on course to claim the teams' title in Valencia.

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