Photo Courtesy of Repsol Honda
Marc Marquez left Sachsenring with plenty to smile about – his seventh-consecutive win at Sachsenring and a healthy MotoGP points lead going into the Summer break.
Marc Marquez’ seventh-straight win at Sachsenring was a big victory for the young Spaniard. It not only kept his impressive win streak alive at the German circuit, but had resounding implications for the 2016 MotoGP Championship. With the win, the Repsol Honda rider was able double his points haul over his Movistar Yamaha rivals – Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
It was by no means an easy win. And it certainly wasn’t perfect. Mother Nature dealt some tricky cards (another case of wet, but drying conditions), but in the end Marquez played his the best to cross the line with nearly a 10-second lead. We sat down with Marquez to talk about that win, his gamble to come in early for a tire swap to slicks and his position in the championship.
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Congratulations for this victory, which is the most impressive of your career. Also, it is not yours alone, is more than ever the team I think…
Yes, the truth is that victories like this start to work after the warm up. First the team did a great job repairing the second bike because in the warm-up I destroyed it and they had to replace everything. It is not easy to rebuild a MotoGP bike. And then all the sessions we did were in case it would be a flag-to-flag race, and I think it went pretty well. The first part of the race was more my mistake because I chose the extra-soft tire like [Valentino] Rossi, Jorge [Lorenzo] and Dani [Pedrosa] all did, and that was a mistake because I knew that for my riding style it could be too soft – and it was. So it also caused the mistake on the eighth lap where I lost a lot of seconds, and later because I didn’t have a another option I took a gamble that it would be flag-to-flag and tried to change the bike before the others to recover some time. At first it wasn’t all great because the bike was spinning a lot, but then I started to feel better and better. It was a bit crazy because I didn’t know what position I was in because suddenly went from being eighth to fourth, and then suddenly I saw P1 plus twenty and I thought, if something happens we will focus on another kind of race.
“Well it is clear that when you look in hindsight, is a little different, but I was willing to change because every corner was a gamble, I noticed that if I closed in front, it was unsteady, I was not comfortable and knew that a fall could come at any moment and so I said ‘I’m changing to slicks’ and if that works I can win the race.”
Photo Courtesy of Repsol Honda
Marquez chose the wrong front tire and felt that it was best to come in early and fix that. In the end, the gamble paid off.
Hadn’t you tried the extra-soft tire in morning?
I tried it when I went out again after the fall. I went to do a lap and I tried it, it wasn’t bad but of course, we had data from [Jack] Miller and Dani who had gone with that tire and had been quick. On the other hand Cal [Crutchlow] went with the “C” [the harder-option tire] and also went faster but with more movement, and they looked at the telemetry and didn’t know what to do. The training lap I did with the “C” that was soft, but I saw on the grid that Valentino, Jorge and Dani went with the soft extra and I wanted to go with the same as them, but it was mistake.
And the communication with the team when changing bikes…
We had already spoken, there was a person who was “Roger” from HRC who was at the last corner, just in case I wanted to come in at the last minute, and there was one person that if I signaled with my hand that it was time [to come in]. He saw my signal and I made another lap before coming in, I put my hand down to let them know and they knew that I would change the bike, I also knew that I had slicks in the second bike, we had no intermediates, because for us intermediate does not exist because it can create a lot of confusion for the rider and the team.
If you got to the front and didn’t have that track exit, would you have chosen a more conservative strategy than coming into the pits to change bikes?
Well it is clear that when you look in hindsight, is a little different, but I was willing to change because every corner was a gamble, I noticed that if I closed in front, it was unsteady, I was not comfortable and knew that a fall could come at any moment and so I said “I’m changing to slicks” and if that works I can win the race.
Photo Courtesy of Repsol Honda
Although his plan paid off, Marquez wasn’t going to bash the opposition for their mistakes.
The Yamaha riders gave you a little gift also in this race, right?
Why? What happened?
They didn’t enter their boxes when signaled and so on…
When you’re ahead it’s different, it’s like when Dovizioso said “we’ll finish the race with these tires that have just a few laps left on them.” But yeah they might have entered too late, but I went in too soon. Too soon, because Pol [Espargaro] went in when I did and crashed right out of box because there were three corners that were completely wet, but that’s where you have to have be a little more cautious. In the case of Jorge, I went with slicks but he was still on wets and I passed him, so I said “I’ll try to get more points.”
“… At mid-season, there are still many points left; what has happened before can happen again. There could still be races in the wet, you can crash, there are many moments left.”
Your description of being cautious is surprising! Two years ago you would not have used that word, correct?
Well, two years ago in a flag-to-flag I always went quite quite well, but it’s a mystery. Today if I had come to change my bike and on the first lap I fell as Pol did, now we would be having a different conversation. “Why? Why so soon?” Well, I took this risk and it went well, I was able to manage and this gave me the victory.
You are 48 points ahead of Lorenzo and you have 59 over Rossi. Do you have the championship in your hand already at midseason?
No. In 2014, I had two consecutive DNFs, at Misano and Aragon. You can easily lose 50 points all of a sudden. And look, this season I was more loose on the bike, but still at mid-season, there are still many points left; what has happened before can happen again. There could still be races in the wet, you can crash, there are many moments left. So it’s clear that better to have this advantage that gives you confidence, but you shouldn’t be overly confident because when you are, you start doing things you normally would not.