Following Friday's opening practice at Sepang, Marc Marqez was given the opportunity to respond to Valentino Rossi's recent allegations.
On Thursday, championship leader Rossi claimed that Honda rider Marquez was trying to help his rival and Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in the battle for the world title.
Marquez, who was sitting right beside Rossi at the pre-event press conference when he made the allegations, at first appeared unsure if the Italian was joking, though it soon became clear he was not. Afterwards, Rossi would speak much more seriously about the issue to the Italian media, even producing printed lap times he believed constituted evidence.
“After some hours, I'm still surprised like I think everybody,” Marquez said when given the opportunity to respond on Friday. “Of course I respect Valentino and I will respect always, but I understand also his situation. That he is fighting for the title, he is really close to getting his tenth title, but he knows Jorge is really strong. So for that reason I prefer to be out of this battle.
“Of course yesterday Valentino pushed to me, but in the end he needs to beat Jorge on the racetrack. So I don't want to be inside [the title battle] but in the end I'm doing my race. I think what I did in Phillip Island was the best, which was win the race and take the 25 points for my team, my sponsors and my factory.
“I will try to do the same here and Valencia. Try to win. Of course if I cannot win I'll try to finish second, or third. Like I say before the Phillip Island race, I will try to do my 100%.”
Rossi also claimed that Marquez still had sour grapes over previous clashes the two riders had at Argentina and Assen, and that he was "thinking like a child" and trying to help Lorenzo to win.
“I didn't lose any respect [for Rossi] because in the end I understand his situation,” Marquez said. “Even if you are Valentino, Jorge, Marc or Dani – when you are fighting for the title, remain two races, 11 points. After a year like that everybody feel the pressure.
“Like I say, I don't want to be inside of this battle. I want to give to them the show inside the track and have a great battle between him and Jorge. But of course there is the possibility that me, Dani, Andrea will be in the middle. Maybe it will be a good thing for Valentino, maybe a good thing for Jorge.
“But in the end everybody here is doing his race and, as I said at Phillip Island before the race, he is not my team-mate that is fighting for the title. So just I will do my race and I will try to finish first and if that is not possible second, third.”
Asked why he thought Rossi had brought him into the battle, Marquez replied: “I don't know, new strategy no?! I was really surprised because at Phillip Island in the end I won the race. I did an incredible last lap, taking a risk to overtake Lorenzo in the downhill after a hot lap, that always is difficult.
“You know, in the end I respect him and maybe it is a new strategy. We don't know. Only Valentino knows this, but like I say of course I understand and respect [him], but he needs to beat Jorge on the track and I think Valentino is strong enough to beat Jorge on the track.
“Valentino is leading the championship by 11 points. He knows that if he finishes just behind or in front of Jorge he will win the championship, so he doesn't need to be worried.”
Asked if Rossi had mentioned anything to him at Phillip Island, he said: “Yeah we already speak because, you know, outside of the European races always there is a small party and we were there. We speak and he asked me about the race and everything, but he was not like this. Just he said to me, 'why the last lap was so fast? Why you push in the middle of the race, then Jorge overtake you?'
“But it is like I say, I tried to manage the race, manage my situation, my tyres, my front tyre and in the end do the best and my target was win the race. Doesn't matter how, if by five seconds or by one millisecond.”
Asked if he angry at Rossi over the comments, Marquez said he was not.
“No I'm not angry because like I say at the first moment that I heard that, I don't want to be inside of this [title] battle. But this doesn't mean that maybe here, Valencia – we don't know because it can happen – maybe Pedrosa, Iannone, me will be in-between Jorge and Valentino.
“Maybe it will be a help for Valentino and maybe it will be a help for Jorge. But in the end everybody is doing his own race and everybody is trying to get the best result for his team and sponsors.”
When Rossi was told of Marquez' response afterwards, he said: “For me it is not very surprising, I think, but anyway I said everything yesterday and I don't have nothing to say more.”