From pole, Pramac Ducati rider Martin led for 26 of the 27 laps on Saturday at Phillip Island, only losing the advantage on the very final tour as his soft rear tyre wore out, allowing Johann Zarco to come through for victory.
Martin slipped to fifth at the chequered flag, losing further ground in the championship battle to second-place finisher Francesco Bagnaia.
It follows Martin’s costly crash in Indonesia that brought to an end a run of weekends in which he steadily eroded Bagnaia’s once-healthy points lead.
But Marquez feels the blistering pace Martin has demonstrated throughout the weekend at Phillip Island, including on medium tyres, shows he is still the man to beat as the title fight approaches its climax.
“For me, Jorge had the extra speed and for that reason he was able to lead with the soft,” said Marquez for his thoughts on Martin’s tyre choice.
“Of course it was a mistake, but he will learn about it.
“He was the fastest also with the medium in practice. I was a bit surprised when I saw the tyre choice.
“But Jorge today was much faster than the others, we saw it in qualifying, the first part of the race and in practice on medium tyres, he was super-fast.”
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team,
Asked by Motorsport.com if he believes Martin will overcome the 27-point deficit he now faces to Bagnaia, Marquez replied: “Yeah. At the moment he has more speed.
“There are still four race weekends to go, with the sprint races, so it’s like six races [with the extra points]. He is riding super-well.”
Honda rider Marquez was one of only two other riders besides Martin, the other being Tech3’s Pol Espargaro, to go with the soft rear tyre in Saturday’s race.
The six-time champion briefly ran in the top five early on, but began to slip backwards and finally wound up all the way down in 15th place at the finish.
Reflecting on his race, Marquez said that Martin pushing from the start had the effect of spreading out the pack, effectively ruining a strategy that had been based on his expectations of a pack race.
He pointed out that a similar tyre choice at Phillip Island last year allowed him to finish on the podium.
“From the beginning when I saw Martin on the soft, he was pushing so hard and the race became super-fast,” explained Marquez.
“When he is riding on those lap times, you cannot manage the tyres, especially because in practice I didn’t have the [extra] speed to manage the tyres.
“On lap 10 I felt the first drop, and until lap 20 more or less I was able to save the situation, but then for the last six laps I was two seconds slower because the rubber was completely gone.
“It was my decision, the tyre was working well [in practice], and it was not the correct one… but with the medium, I would have finished P9, P10, P11, not better.”