Marc Marquez was back on a bike on Thursday and back in front of the MotoGP media this morning as his preparation for 2022 continued.
Speaking as part of Honda’s global motorsport presentation, the eight-time world champion was confident of his rehabilitation and optimistic for the coming season.
Marquez explained it was his choice to return to the motocross bike that initially caused his diplopia injury as his first taste back on two wheels in three months, and confirmed he is targeting a return to his MotoGP machine in time for the Sepang test next month.
“I'm really happy,” Marquez said on retuning to training. “After three months that were quite tricky, because vision problem is never easy, this last month was better and better. Since I had the accident with the enduro bike, was difficult but I just follow the advice of my doctor - Dr. Sánchez Dalmau. The one that fix my vision already in 2011. I just follow his advice, was a very slow process but we already know when I had the injury. Was a nerve that effects straightaway to the muscle, was exactly the same nerve like the 2011 injury.
“These last months, especially these last week's, I feel some improvements and this week I had a doctor check and basically my feeling was proved by the results of the check. Was very happy and he allowed me to start riding a bike.
“I choose a motocross bike because it is the one that I was injured on and is the one that is really demanding. You need to be very precise, and you need completely all your vision. The result obviously was very positive and now I'm looking forward for the next step. The Repsol Honda team is trying to organise a test with a CBR1000 or maybe the RCV that I ride last year already with the arm, and let's see. Let's see if we can organise soon and try in a GP circuit.”
Marquez has been plagued with injury in recent years, most notably after damaging his arm at Jerez as 2020’s delayed season finally got underway. The resulting recovery kept him out of competition for the reminder of the season, with 2021 marred by setbacks and diminished expectations.
“It’s been one of the most difficult times in my career because it's already the fourth winter [without full fitness]” he admitted.
“First with the right shoulder, then left shoulder then the arm. With the arm I suffer a lot and now, looks like everything was going better and better, arrive another injury, just when I won again in Austin and Misano.
“But in life you never know, you need to be always positive. Is true that it's hard and I don't wish to any rider or any person to have this kind of feelings but now I am feeling better. Since I was injured, my goal was try to be at the first test or at the first race. Looks like we are on the way but first of all we need to try [to ride] in a GP circuit, with high speed. The vision is something very serious so I know that I will follow the advice of my doctor but at the moment I am feeling really good so this is most important.
“Of course the recovery of an injury like this, of the vision is not something that you can play with,” Marquez continued. “You have a clear vision or you don't, is on or off.
“I'm the first one that when I have an injury I want to ride the next day but experience, especially in this case that already 10 years ago I was in exactly the same situation. You don’t know, the doctor didn't say to me 'You will be three months, one month or six months.' It's something that even the doctors don’t know. So was tricky.
“Step by step it was coming better but you know when you have this kind of injury everything is on the table, surgery, time and the possibility to not ride a bike is on the table. It was difficult, was a hard time because you don't know your future but, especially the last month, it started better and better. One week ago I started cycling a bit on the road, then I start with the mountain bike. The feeling was good, was better and better then this week when I had the doctor check, he confirmed that feeling and he allowed me to ride a bike.”
While the progress is positive, the Honda rider remains cautious but optimistic of his presence at Sepang for next month’s official MotoGP test. “First of all, to confirm that I will be in Malaysia I want to try more days [on the bike] and I want to try in a GP circuit, because I want to be 100% sure that when I start the preseason I will be fixed and I will be ready to do a normal season,” he explained.
“If I'm riding a bike, it's because we don't need the surgery. If I'm riding the bike is because I have a perfect vision. But at the moment also I want to follow the advice of the doctor. He wants to see me in a GP circuit, with high speed, alone. One day test with a lot of laps. If when I get tired then I have some problems or not? So I want to evaluate and my doctor to evaluate all these things before, to allow me to be in the Malaysia test. So for that reason, since the first moment I get the injury, we take the conservative way.
“Step by step, time will fix everything. If the time doesn't fix everything then we will need the surgery but looks like this time is working in a good way and everything is good.
“I didn't have the perfect preseason at the moment but another thing during this three months that we were working very hard is on the shoulder but we concentrate more on the vision. Now we are planning, we are trying to find a perfect way because the shoulder is much better, arm is much better, but we need to understand the way to work during the season to don't have the same problems like last year. This kind of irritations and all these things that then arrive the pain and then everything becomes more difficult. We need to prevent all these things.”
When accidents like this occur, many are quick to condemn the use of off road bikes during training, especially for MotoGP riders, but the Spaniard was just as quick to dismiss the concerns.
“Off road bike of course is dangerous,” he agreed, “but also is dangerous if you train with a CBR1000 in some circuits that are not GP circuits, because the run off areas are smaller, but in the end you need to train.
"The accident was like a normal day, I get up, I take my enduro bike and I was riding on a very small circuit here very close to my town. I was with Josep Garcia, world champion enduro and I have a very good relationship with him. I ride just 20 minutes and then I said 'Okay, I will do two more laps before we go' and yeah on that point I crash in a right corner and I have like a kind of high side. I hit my head on the ground but I get up, I stand up and I take the bike again, I say 'Okay, I need to go' and I continue on my enduro. I arrive at home, take a shower and then after three hours I start to feel something strange in the vision, something strange on the head. Straight away I call my doctor and I say 'I have this feeling' and he said 'No panic. Wait first week, maybe it's normal. Sometimes in the first week can fix alone.' But then after the first week, we see that the problem was there.
“On mental side, as you'll see on social media, I tried to forget the world. I tried to forget everything and just tried to have a normal life and stay at home, especially the first weeks of the injury, but then obviously is difficult, especially when you have a vision problem. Even on the first month I couldn't have a normal life because I was on the sofa. I stand up for like one hour but it was impossible, the feeling was not great. It's difficult but then when you ride the bike again, the feeling is even better, the feeling is even nicer. For that reason I say that I don't wish to anybody to have this kind of problem, to have this kind of injury because it's a long period and all the riders, all the people need a passion in his life.
“Was a long period but yeah, the risk always is there. If you're on the sofa you will not have any risk and you will race every race, but you will not be the best of the world.”