When rain drops suddenly intensified in the closing stages of Sunday's Austrian MotoGP, Marc Marquez immediately muscled his way to the front of the leading group.

The Repsol Honda rider wasn't hoping to break away, but rather play Pied Piper.

Having already decided to pit for wet tyres at the end of the lap, the eight-time world champion knew that if his main rivals saw the race leader pulling in, they would probably all follow.

If the top group all made the same choice as Marquez, it would significantly reduce the risk that the #93 had taken the wrong decision. Even if wets proved slower, it would be the same situation for all the leaders and they would resume their previous battle with Marquez still in front.

Marquez duly looked over his shoulder as he pulled off the track and would have been pleased to see a queue of bikes following him into pit lane... Except Brad Binder. The last of the six leaders, Binder didn't take the bait and made a race-winning decision to brave it out on slicks.

"I think we took a good decision to go in," Marquez said. "It was the safest decision and also I tried to lead the race because normally when the first rider goes in, all the others follow.

"Just Brad stayed out and congrats to him because it's so difficult to keep that level and to finish the race on slick tyres in the wet conditions. But I think the other top guys took a good decision, to go in and finish on the rain tyres."

But Binder's slick gamble wasn't the only spanner in the works for Marquez.

Pushing to catch the South African at the head of the 'wet' group he was first to hit heavy rain at Turn 1 on the penultimate lap.

"We did a good strategy, we were strong, when I went out with rain tyres I felt okay," Marquez said. "But it was so difficult to understand because in some corners it was full rain, some corners full dry and then when we arrived in the first corner there was heavy rain and the guy leading the group is the one that takes more risk. So when I crashed all the rest just went straight [and carried on]."

Remounting at the back of the field, Marquez eventually crossed the finish line in 15th, scant reward for his earlier heroics when he had surprised by taking the fight to the race favourites after switching to a soft rear tyre on the grid.

"I'm very happy today because I prefer to do a race like this than achieve a good result just by flag-to-flag because it's not a real level," Marquez said. "Today in the dry we show a good level and I was enjoying the race and I'm happy.

"From outside, it looks like a gamble or 'they took a risk' [with the soft tyre]. But yesterday we tried in FP4 and the performance was not bad and with our experience this tyre is working well. With Michelin tyres sometimes you need to forget about soft, medium or hard. You need to just try to understand the feeling. And for our bike this year we are struggling a lot, a lot, with the rear grip."

The only rider on the soft rear suggested Marquez needed the rain to arrive sooner rather than later. But his consistent pace on the soft proved a pleasant surprise.

"With the soft I knew we can at least ride well for 10-15 [out of 28] laps. But for some reason, I don’t know why, at the end of the race I felt much stronger than in the first part of the race!

"Before the race I was praying to have some rain because it was the only chance, but during the race I was praying not to have any rain because I felt very strong.

"I was surprised. I knew before the race that maybe if the pace was '24.2-'24.1 I will struggle. But the pace was around 24-mid and in those lap times I felt comfortable and was even able to save the tyre.

"It was a surprise to be fast in the early laps on the soft but with 9-10 laps to go, I overtook Quartararo and then in one lap I caught Pecco. That was a great surprise on the bike, but then unfortunately the rain arrived and everything changed.

"It's good news today that we were able to ride fast, consistent, but I already said to Honda 'not enough'. We need to keep working because it's true that I was there but I took a lot of risk.

"So if we want to fight for the championship next year we need to be a little bit faster, just improve in some points."

Marquez was the only Honda rider in the top 12 for much of the race, with brother Alex eventually finishing as the top RC213V in ninth after Marc's late fall.

Francesco Bagnaia, second to Marquez when they made their pit stops, made a late charge to finish runner-up to Binder and needed just one more lap to pass the KTM rider. Jorge Martin and Joan Mir, also part of the earlier dry leading group, took third and fourth on wets.