Marc Marquez said that it was not his intention to give Jorge Lorenzo the benefit of his slipstream during qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
In a second qualifying session dominated by Dani Pedrosa, Marquez and Lorenzo rode together in tandem during the opening run, the Yamaha rider recording what would prove to be his fastest lap.
With Valentino Rossi having accused Marquez of favouring Lorenzo’s title bid on Thursday, the Repsol Honda rider was understandably eager to play down any suggestion of aiding his fellow countryman.
“I never start first in qualifying, but with the strategy with the laps the plan was to use three tyres and the time was tight,” he explained.
“For that reason we start at the beginning [of the session], and it wasn’t only Jorge, it was [Andrea] Iannone and many other riders as well [behind me].
“I slowed down at Turns 5 and 6, but everyone was behind me. So I thought I will push on the first lap, not 100 percent, then on the next tyres I will push more.
“I was not agreeing to give the slipstream to all these riders, but it was the only way to use all the tyres: push, or waste one tyre.”
Rossi needs no tow
Rossi meanwhile took advantage of Iannone’s slipstream in his first two runs, but rode solo on his best lap – which put him on the front row at Lorenzo’s expense – in his third and final run.
“It was a good lap [behind Iannone] because I got into the top five, which was my target,” admitted Rossi.
“But at the same time I understand I can do better because I was good in sector three especially.
“The last lap was good because I didn’t make any mistakes and improved a bit the lap time, which was crucial to be in the top three.
“But it doesn’t change a lot, and tomorrow the fight with Jorge will be very hard because he has good pace.”