Marquez’s campaign has been destabilized by his disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix when his team failed a basic math test.
The championship is now set for a tense conclusion over the final two races, in Japan and at Valencia in Spain, with Marquez’s lead over Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo now just 18 points.
Before the Phillip Island race Marquez held a 43-point advantage and appeared set to cruise to the championship and become the first rookie winner since Kenny Roberts in 1978.
But mystery surrounds just how Marquez and his main minders, crew chief Santi Hernandez and manager Emilio Alzamora, came up with their plan.
The team closed ranks after the puzzling debacle.
By contrast Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa, guided by manager Alberto Puig and crew chief Mike Leitner, executed a perfect strategy
“In the end the plan was by the whole team, we cannot say one person,” Marquez said.
“We made the plan with three or four guys, with Santi and also Emilio. The biggest problem was we thought it was possible to make the pitstop on that lap (11), that was the biggest mistake.
“But the positive thing is we were there fighting for the victory.”
The revised rules for the race were clear: no more than 10 laps were allowed on Bridgestone’s flawed rear tires before a mandatory pit stop for a bike swap and new tires.
The Yamaha team were under no illusions that if the 10 lap limit was exceeded — to avoid the blistering and chunking because an unsuitable tire supplied by Bridgestone – then a black flag disqualification was the penalty.
“Yes, I knew about this penalty before the race, I read the rules, it was clear,” said Yamaha star Valentino Rossi who finished third.
Rossi’s teammate Lorenzo won the race with another superb display of precision and speed and he is now bristling with confidence for the championship. He spilt the race into 10 and nine-lap stints to meet the 19-lap race distance under the flag-to-flag system.
“I didn’t know that the penalty for going over the laps would be black flag,” Marquez said.
“But the penalty was quite strong. OK, I did one more lap but the penalty for this is quite strong but we need to respect this decision of the Race Direction.
“But it could have been a different penalty, a ride thru or some seconds added to my race time.”
Apart from the miscount on laps Marquez made his own crucial error which mystified almost everyone, not least Rossi, who has won nine world championships.
Marquez’s only rival for the championship is Lorenzo and the logical move to make was to cover Lorenzo, the race leader, when he made his pitstop as required on Lap 10.
“It is difficult to understand why they did this mistake because it is a strange mistake,” Rossi said.
“They knew they had a two-lap window to change bikes and Marc had Jorge in front of him and he saw Jorge go into the pits.
“So why didn’t he stop? I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t see the board.”
Marquez and Lorenzo have now won six races each this season with Marquez on 298 and Lorenzo on 280 points.
TV ALERT – The Australian Grand Prix will re-air in its entirety Monday night at 8p ET on FOX Sports 2, followed by the Moto2 and Moto3 races.