The news we’d all been waiting for was finally announced on Saturday. Marc Marquez will return to MotoGP in Portugal following a 9-month recovery from an arm injury. But will he be able to battle for wins when he returns, or will he linger at the back of the grid?
Injury and recovery: What do we know?
Marquez was ruled out of MotoGP following a serious high side crash at the Spanish GP in Jerez, Spain, in August 2020. After a fracture to his right humorous, he had surgery to have a plate fitted to the bone to aid his recovery. Despite trying to come back at the following race, he could not get further than qualifying after damaging this plate. This led to a second operation being necessary, ruling him out for the rest of the season. He then endured a further set back when he had a third surgery in December, where a bone graft from his hip to his arm was performed in the hope of aiding recovery. This was expected to require up to 6 months of recovery but such a strong athlete as Marquez is, he’s back racing much sooner.
What can we expect in Portimao?
One of the fastest and most successful men ever to compete in MotoGP is back – but is he ready? He is definitely not coming back to an easy track, that’s for sure. Turn 1 at the Portimão track subjects the riders to the highest g-force that they’ll ever experience on the track, aside from when crashing. Having only tested on a Honda RC213V-S street bike, a bike without carbon brakes, becoming comfortable on the bike again is not an easy feat. Following such a long recovery, will Marc be more careful and ensure he can continue racing, or will he go flat out? Only time will tell.
Marquez was also unable to take part in testing or the first two races in Doha and has, of course, not been able to ride a competitive bike since his accident. So many are wondering whether he will be competitive at all. But if anyone can do it, Marc Marquez can. He was able to come back from a Moto2 crash which seriously affected his eyesight, for which Marquez says the recovery was much worse than it was for his arm injury. He had surgery on a serious vision issue following a crash in Sepang 2011, leading to major concerns over whether he’d ride again. Coming back from that to win so many titles proves the strength of this rider and indicates the fight he will put in to compete for championships once again.
The Honda rider can also be reassured that there are no expectations of immediate success from the team. They are aware that they cannot possibly put any more pressure on Marquez’s return that he will not already have put on himself. Despite such a long break, this talented rider will immediately aim for the top and is unlikely to stop until he gets there. With replacement Stefan Bradl managing a best finish of 11th in the two Doha GPs, while Pol Esparagó finished a best of 8th, the team are not battling to stay at the top of the championship standings. They are, therefore, able to give the rider time to acclimatise to MotoGP and take a few races to reach his full potential, if that is possible following such a serious injury.
So many unanswerable questions:
With the entire weekend yet to start, we can’t predict how it will go for Marquez and the team, but that makes it even more thrilling. His season could be incredibly exciting or truly disappointing, depending on how quickly he can get back to the front of the grid over the course of the season. Our main hope is that he can compete again following his break with no issues or incidents. While he may not win the title, he will expect to be strong from the start, and I can’t wait to see if it’s possible.