Marquez quit Argentina qualifying lap to protect MotoGP title bid
|By Valentin Khorounzhiy, Oriol Puigdemont, Federico Faturos||Sunday, April 8th 2018, 08:59 GMT|
Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez says he backed out of his slick-tyre run in qualifying for Argentina because the risk of injuring himself in a crash was too high.
Marquez switched to a slick-shod Honda midway through the Q2 shoot-out at Termas de Rio Hondo, only to immediately return to the pits and head back out on wets again.
The only rider who tried the slicks and stuck with them was Pramac Ducati's Jack Miller who snatched pole at the last second and Marquez's streak of four consecutive Argentina poles, with the Honda rider himself qualifying sixth.
Marquez, who is second in the standings, said the slick gamble was not worth jeopardising his title challenge.
"When I went out from the box, I realised that when I touched a wet part of something it was quite easy to have a crash," Marquez said. "After Turn 7, 8, I passed [the wet section] there and my head starts to think, 'tomorrow is the race'.
"Of course pole position is important, [but] tomorrow is the race, and this year I'm trying to avoid the risk [and] the crashing.
"Of course I take risks, but if you crash in these conditions, normally you are injured because you fly [off the bike] or something else.
"I saw the Jack [Miller]'s lap - he took a lot of risks, he took the pole, but we go in another strategy."
Tech3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco and Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso agreed with Marquez that wet tyres were the best choice, despite Miller's pole.
Zarco, who qualified third, recalled: "My second bike was ready with slicks. I knew Jack was with slicks and we were looking with the team at the sector and [it was] difficult to know if it's much better or not.
"We could not wait for a full lap from him to really say the slick is the best one, so when I had to choose, I say 'I stay with the rain and I'm going to push'.
"I think it was a good choice for me - what he did with the slicks, I don't think I could do it. For me these corners 7 and 8, they were too wet. I prefer to choose the rain [tyres]."
Dovizioso qualified eighth and when he was asked whether slicks were suitable, he added: "For Jack, yes. For me, no. I think the confirmation is what Marc did. It was very on the limit.
"In that condition I think he's able to play in that limit, and I believe - I'm not sure, but I believe - he uses a lot the rear brake in his style, and in that condition [it] helps you a lot to try to feel the limit and manage the slick tyres on the wet. But he did a special thing, for sure."