Marquez produced arguably his best qualifying performance of the season as he claimed his third MotoGP front row since returning to action at Aragon.

However, the Spaniard was again seen following Bagnaia throughout qualifying which raised an unusual question in the ensuing press conference.

Marquez, who also opted to follow Bagnaia in Phillip Island seven days ago, was asked whether he should leave Bagnaia alone given the Italian is in the midst of a title fight.

But the Honda rider, who was no stranger to other riders doing the same to him when he was winning championship after championship, was feisty in his response: “In my point of view, when I was fighting for the championship the [other] riders didn’t care.

“One thing is that if you disturb like Morbidelli did in FP3 – then in that case you need to pay attention.

“But if you are behind and you are not super, super close then you are not disturbing. If you are fighting for the championship then you have the ideas [that are] clever and you just push with the lap.

“I was not the only one behind. Normally when Bagnaia goes out there are many riders behind, but it’s true that the Repsol Honda colours are more shiny.”

MotoGP qualifying at Sepang ‘a very, very important day’, says Marquez

Given the fact Marquez looked set to start outside the top 20 with just a couple of minutes remaining in Q1, being on the front row is a miraculous achievement.

Honda have struggled a lot so far this weekend, and while it was visible that all of their riders were on the absolute limit – has been highlighted by Marquez, brother Alex and Pol Espargaro combining for five crashes since the beginning of FP1 – Marquez was able to dig deep when it mattered most.

On the lap that took him to P3 Marquez had two extreme wobbles on corner exit, but with that said, being able to fight his machine at a time where pure performance is lacking has been one of the most pleasing things to the six-time MotoGP champion.

Summing up the importance of this front row result, Marquez added: “It was a very, very important day. Even more than Australia because it is a circuit that in the past was not one of my best circuits.

“I cannot say that I was struggling because I won some times here but it is not one of my favourite circuits. I am struggling with the riding style and all Hondas are struggling a lot.

“I’m fighting a lot with the bike but I can [fight]. I can fight for some laps against the bike but not all laps.

“So some laps I can ride like I want and like I said in some interviews – I am feeling better and better and I can start to absorb some of the problems of the bike.”

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