Marc Marquez says the relative slow race pace in the Qatar MotoGP from winner Andrea Dovizioso helped him preserve his tyre life to set-up the final-lap duel for victory.

In a repeat of last year’s race at the Losail International Circuit, Marquez took on Dovizioso for a last-lap fight for the opening win of the season but missed out by just 0.023s to the Ducati rider having traded multiple overtakes in a frantic finale.

Despite going so close to victory in Qatar, which would have been his first at the track since 2014, Marquez feels Dovizioso’s race strategy played to his advantage as the slower pace allowed him to protect his tyre life and “survive” for second place.

“Today was a very strange race,” Marquez said. “I mean it was a very slow pace. But for me it was much better because I was struggling to save the rear tyre, but also the front and I think the others didn't have the problem with the front.

“I prayed before the race to have a slow pace and Dovi gave me a slow pace and then I tried in the end but my rear tyre was finished because I was riding only with the rear.”

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Marquez says with Honda suffering for front tyre performance compared to its rivals, with its weakness exposed in the colder conditions racing at night in Qatar, he was balancing a difficult bike setup relying on his rear tyre grip which dropped over the closing laps despite the slower race pace.

“For my riding style this [tyre] allocation for this circuit was not the best one but will arrive other circuits where it will be better,” he said. “So we survive with 20 points in a circuit where we struggle a lot.

“I'm very happy. Especially because it's one of the worst circuits for us. One of the circuits where I struggle more. And especially this weekend. I was struggling a lot to understand and manage the front tyre, because for my riding style it was too soft, even the hard was not working because it was another one compared to last year.

“Then I rode all the race with the rear tyre and when you ride all the race with the rear tyre it means that you are using a lot of rubber and I saw that in the end the speed of Dovi was better. But then I just tried to push and tried to see what happens if I try at the last corner. I lost, but I'm very happy because of these 20 points.”

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