Marc Marquez is adamant Maverick Vinales had the stronger race pace at the Australian MotoGP and had to use his strategy to get the better of the Monster Yamaha rider to clinch victory at Phillip Island.

The newly crowned MotoGP world champion continues to rewrite the record books with his 55th premier class win, surpassing Mick Doohan for third place on the all-time list, while also becoming the most successful Honda rider in history.

Having notched up his fifth consecutive victory and 11th of the 2019 season, Marquez chased Vinales across the final two-thirds of the Phillip Island race measuring his own pace against the Yamaha rider before making his move for the lead into Turn 1 on the final lap.

The 26-year-old then produced a defensive final lap to hold off Vinales, who ended up crashing out at Turn 10 looking for a route past his rival, which saw Marquez win another last-lap duel against a Yamaha rider having also been victorious against Fabio Quartararo in both Misano and Buriram.

But having seen Vinales dominate practice and qualifying, Marquez says the 2018 Australian GP winner had a much stronger pace than him and his win came down to a measured strategy.

“The difference [in pace] before the race was bigger. But it is a circuit where the slipstream is easier to fill and helps more. So the difference was bigger but with slipstream I had a bigger help,” Marquez said. “I used his slipstream because it was my only chance as he was faster than me, but sometimes the fastest one doesn’t win the race. This was that time.

“Sometimes it is the only chance in the last lap battle. Today the fastest guy on the race track was Maverick but I knew before the race it was crucial in the five or six laps when he pushed very hard, he did low 1m 29s and that was my qualifying practice time, but I was able to follow him in my limit.

“I kept going, kept pushing and then I started slow cooking the victory by analysing, checking how the tyres were and even like this it was not 100% certain as he was very, very fast.”

Having been unaware Vinales had fallen at Turn 10 until he reached the chequered flag, Marquez also revealed he had one last plan of attack if the Yamaha rider found a way back past him.

“On the last lap it was my plan to overtake him on the main straight and then try to close all the doors,” he explained. “I was trying to brake so deep going in and I was sliding a lot on the rear as the tyre was finished.

“At Turn 10 he had already overtaken me two times so I knew he would come so I went in so deep with quite strong braking.

“I didn’t know that he had crashed but I would have had a second chance I think before the finish line I would have been able to overtake him too.”

Reflecting on his overall race strategy, Marquez says he prefers to stalk the leader when he feels he doesn’t have the pace to charge clear at the front.

It meant the race developed in a familiar pattern to the Repsol Honda rider’s fight against Quartararo in Misano and Buriram earlier this season with Marquez pulling off a move on the final lap for victory.

Despite appearing to be in control behind Vinales, the eight-time world champion admitted his Soft rear tyre pick was a gamble decided with chief mechanic Santi Hernandez so he could keep pace with the Yamaha rider in order to stay in contention for victory on the final lap.

“Today I knew the gap was very big to Vinales before the race,” he said. “Emilio [Alzamora, Marquez’s manager] said be careful at this race track as it is quite fast and if you crash.

“But then Alberto [Puig, Repsol Honda team manager] came and said you need to try, you need to try! So I said okay, we find the balance. Emilio or Alberto!

“With Santi we chose the Soft rear option for that, to follow him, we didn’t know his option but I wanted the Soft option to follow him and then I will survive at the end of the race.

“If I didn’t follow him for those laps I would have stayed with Cal [Crutchlow] and the others.”

With Marquez maintaining his winning run, he has single-handedly seen Repsol Honda close to one point behind Ducati in the MotoGP teams’ standings as he looks to secure the final leg of the 2019 Triple Crown having already wrapped up the riders’ and constructors’ world titles.

Marquez’s Repsol Honda team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finished in 16th place and over one minute behind the winner.

 

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