Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez is back in the MotoGP paddock at Austria this weekend, and while not riding, he’s eager to be return soon.
The eight-time champion has a few more weeks to wait before he knows when, or if, he will compete on the world stage once again but is confident his recovery from his fourth round of surgery on his troublesome arm is progressing as he’d hoped.
“Looks like now everything is going in a good way but I know that the decision was really important,” Marquez confirmed to a packed media crowd at the Red Bull Ring. “Because, as I say to you, that decision could have finished my career. Looks like everything is going in a good way but for that reason the doctors take care about all the steps and we are going in a slow way but in a safety way, because we know how important is this recovery?
"Honestly speaking, I feel quite well,” he continued. “It's true that in the end, is an arm with four operations. Is an arm that receive four operations and of course, we are working to adapt in the best way. But at least now it's working in a normal way.
"I'm doing already now some exercise that before was impossible but next week, I will have an important check.
“I will have an X ray, and they will understand if I can increase the weight and in that point, when I will increase the weight, when I will ride in the future a bike for the first time, in that moment I will understand immediately if it's enough or not. But at the moment, we are optimistic because is working and every week I increase the work and the arm is reacting in a good way.
“Since the operation, the first six weeks, completely I didn't move my arm!” Marquez explained. “The first six weeks, the doctors and I was completely agree - go in a conservative way. In a way that they tried to take care about all these things and if we need to take one more week is better than be too optimistic.
“First six weeks I was completely out, then the next two weeks I start to move with a physio, my arm. And then from that point, last four weeks, I start to work a little bit with elastics and now I start to increase a little bit the weight but until next week, that I will have the doctor check, then is when they will decide if I'm allowed to push more or not.”
And in answer to the all-important question in everyone’s mind…
“If they allow to push more, then is when we will make a plan and we will understand immediately when I will come back,” he confirmed. “I mean, I don't know but of course one thing is the bond, the other thing is all the muscles. I'm concerned about how important is the rehabilitation and if I need to wait one more week, I will wait. Is true that when I will feel 70 per cent, 80, when I will feel that I can ride a MotoGP bike in a more or less good way, I will come back. Because the best way, the last part of the rehabilitation, the best way is be on the bike. You cannot wait to be 100 per cent before to ride the bike. Still everything to decide but we are taking care about all these things.
“My intention is to make some races this year. Next week I will have the answer.
“Next week I will have the answer if it will be possible or not. Next week I will have a doctor check. I don't want to say 'I will race one race. I will race two, I will race three', I don't know. Next week they will say to me, how is the situation with the bond. If it's okay, I will start working and when I will feel ready, I will come back. Because it will be important to prepare for ’23.”
While the Spaniard’s recovery is the main talking point on his return to racing, the RC213V he finds when he gets there is just as important, and one of the reasons he’s trackside at the Red Bull Ring.
“Obviously you see that Honda/HRC is in a difficult moment,” he said of his long-standing partner. “Not only one rider, all the riders and when all the riders are in a difficult moment means that the project is not in his best moment. But it's true that, as I say in Mugello, I had the experience on 2020/2021 when I has been also a long time without coming in the circuits and in that period I disconnect too much and when I come back, everything was too new.
“So this time I try to keep in contact a lot with Santi [Hernadez, his crew chief], with Stefan Bradl, especially with my team. Of course my brother is riding Honda too but I prefer to keep that tight relationship with my team, with Honda engineers. One of the reasons to be here is not to see the bikes on the track, is to speak with Honda, to speak with the engineers. Of course I cannot decide what we need to do, but I want to be involved about the project because when we're in a difficult moment, all the people need to go in the same way. When we are in a difficult moment is impossible that one guy make the difference. The teamwork is the most important in this moment and is what we are doing.
“It's true that last items I didn't try,” he said of the recent Repsol updates. “The last things on the bike I didn't try but since I ride in Mugello, was so difficult to take the profit of the bike and the problem was big. Was not a small problem, was not that 'we are losing here'. No, it was a big problem. But for me now, the most important thing, is not on the bike, is more on the project, in the coordination area. All the information inside the team, now in that difficult moment needs to flow in a good way, and if the information is flowing well and all the people is working the same team and especially the people is motivated, for sure we will go out from that situation. As a rider, I will do my 100 per cent and I will help the team but the target is try to understand the way of 2023 project.
“I'm not the person, I'm not the guy to say 'you need to organise a team like this'. No, I'm a rider. Of course I am asking for the best bike on the track and this is my target and Honda’s target. Honda/HRC is there to win titles and all the riders are riding for Repsol Honda team, the target is fight for the championship. And even if the feeling is not good, in the next preseason the target will be win the championship and this is the main target.
“I want a winning bike,” he asserted. “But maybe the Marquez style bike, the older style of the bike - for last year or two years ago - maybe now is not working because the category is changing. Before, the bikes were very low and short and now coming big and tall. So we need to understand. They need to understand, I'm not the engineer. I'm saying 'which is our weak point, where I am struggling more, compared to other bikes and we are losing here', but they know the numbers and they are the engineers and I believe on my engineers. If they say that they are convinced about some change, I will believe them.
“I don't want to say that 'No, Honda need to work like Europeans' because in the end, the Japanese style also works a lot during these last years and we won many titles last ten years. But it's true in the end the world is changing. The championship is changing and it's like when arrive the young riders, the riding style is changing and you need to try to investigate, try to find a way to be the best and to improve. In that part Honda is working very hard but is important in difficult moment, not be in the panic. The panic will be the worst enemy now. The most important is try to analyse the situation, that they are doing well. I fully believe on them and I take the operation on the arm to come back on the top with Honda. This is my target but it's true that to achieve this target everybody needs to find a way and to work on the same way.”