Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was back in the MotoGP paddock and firmly in the firing line for questions during Thursday’s Aragon pre-event press conference.
Having been out of competitive action since the Italian Grand Prix at the end of May, Marquez was eager yet cautious to return to the Motorland track in front of his home crowd this weekend.
“Of course, I’m really happy to come back,” Marquez confirmed. “It’s something that, even in Mugello, I didn’t expect to be here at Aragon to race this year, but things have been in a good way from the beginning, from the surgery, and step-by-step, I feel better. Of course, it’s a long way to go.
“The target I want to achieve, I still need to do a lot of work. But after the Misano test, it has been very positive, the feeling. The way that I finished the test in terms of physical condition was good.
“We analysed my recovery with the arm during the following days and we understood that there may be some possibility to be in Aragon and we discussed it with the doctors, with the team, and with everybody, and we decided to be here because one of the most important things is to be on the bike, for myself but also to prepare the 2023. Now it’s important to combine and to have a good strategy and combine well the gym and the bike, and let’s see what I can do.”
While Marquez’ return brings the usual speculation of domination from the outset, the Spaniard is remaining realistic in his potential.
“About the podium, my possibilities are one percent,” he admitted. “I mean, really, really low. One thing is that I’m really far from my best physical condition, especially always talking about arm condition, about the muscles.
“The bone is fixed, that is most important, but the muscle condition still are very far from what I want.
“The second thing is that Honda is in a very difficult moment, we saw that from the other riders, and we are far from the other manufacturers, so let’s see. My target, my goal is to try to finish all weekends from now on. It’s true that the possibility’s on the table - because three races in a row are coming up - that maybe in Japan, maybe in Thailand, I need to stop in the middle of the weekend. We don’t know, but my intention and my goal is to try and finish all these weekends, try to prepare the 2023 well, try to give my precise comments to Honda, and let’s see.
“I start the weekend with the intention to finish the weekend and this is the only possibility in my mind but it’s true that I need to be honest to my conditions,” Marquez elaborated. “I think that here in Aragon I will not have any problem to finish the weekend. Then we will see, I mean, I don’t know. But is true that are coming three races in a row and is there where the fatigue of the muscles, from Aragon to Motegi, Motegi to Thailand, I don’t know how will react. But I already speak with Honda and they understand the situation and they understand that maybe in some weekend I need to stop in the middle of the weekend. In that point we need to be really honest to my condition but if I’m here is to compete, to compete and to continue with my rehabilitation on the bike but in a race weekend.
“It’s important to start in a circuit that you like because you know that you will enjoy during the weekend and this was important, this was my dream, come back in Aragon. In the end the dream comes.
“It’s true that I need to understand where I start this situation, what’s happened this last two years. I need to be calm but we are riding a bike, I can crash, yes, of course I can crash. Is what I say to the doctors, the bone is completely fixed, just now it’s time for the muscles. Because not only three months, is like two years the muscles were working in a different way so now it’s time to step-by-step grow these muscles.
“Is depend about your lap times. I mean, if you are half second slower in the first lap in a race you will stress less your muscles so we will see. Next winter is when I need to understand where the level is or where is the top level of my right arm.”
The Misano test provided glimmers of hope for the HRC project, so is the eight-time world champion pleased with the direction the RC213V seems to be going in 2023?
“I mean, Honda is Honda, and I’m not the guy, I’m not the person to organise a company, just sometimes, it’s true that we share our comments and we try to give some ideas,” he said of his recent criticism. “In Misano, we tried a Kalex swingarm. If we tried it in Misano, it’s not that they started to speak in Austria, they started to speak before. So they are working really hard, they understand the situation, and they understand that we are far from especially Ducati and Aprilia, and we need to keep working. They are involved in the project, next year I will have a strong teammate too, so the riders will be there. Now we need to the tools to work and to fight for a world championship.”