Marc Marquez says that he “felt comfortable” following the works Yamaha of Valentino Rossi during the Italian’s best qualifying lap for the Czech Grand Prix.
While Jorge Lorenzo and Marquez sealed the first two spots on the grid for Sunday’s race at Brno, Rossi was able to move up to third on his final lap to join his two main title rivals on the front row.
But the Italian had company on his final tour, as Marquez, who had already set his best time, latched on to Rossi’s tail in a bid to discover the strengths and weaknesses of his rival in preparation for their battle on race day.
Explaining his actions in the post-qualifying press conference, the Honda rider said: “During free practice it’s impossible to follow [the Yamahas] because we always try to do our own pace.
“But in qualifying, I’d already done my fastest lap and he overtook me. And I tried to follow him to see which points where he and Yamaha are faster.
“I understand that we are not far, because behind him I felt comfortable. We will see tomorrow in the race if I keep this way.”
Rossi: Marquez was clever
In response, Rossi admitted that Marquez’s ploy was “something clever”, because he was unable to slow down and let the defending champion past being on his best lap.
“I saw he had already done the lap time, and I when I passed him for sure I knew he could see our potential,” said Rossi.
“For sure it was something clever, because I cannot stop [my lap]. For keeping the concentration it wasn’t fantastic, but that’s his job.
“It’s important to understand the level of the other guys, and it’s very difficult to do that in practice but he had a good opportunity.”