Marc Marquez cleared for stunning MotoGP comeback after arm surgery

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SATURDAY UPDATE: Repsol Honda Team announced that Marc Marquez will sit out the second race of the MotoGP season despite being cleared (click to read story)

Just two days after surgery on a fractured right arm, defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has been approved for a stunning comeback in Sunday’s second race of the season (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) after receiving medical clearance, according to the MotoGP site.

Marquez, who was injured during a crash in the July 19 season opener, was declared fit to ride in Sunday’s Andalucia Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain. He passed a fitness test Thursday after arriving at the Circuit de Jerez from Barcelona, where he had successful surgery Tuesday. He is planning to miss practice Friday but will test his condition Saturday in hopes of racing Sunday.

Repsol Honda Team manager Alberto Puig said in a Wednesday interview that Marc Marquez had no nerve damage but declined to give a timetable on the eight-time MotoGP champion returning and said the team was prioritizing the rider’s long-term health. During an interview Thursday, Puig expressed surprise about Marquez’s rapid comeback.

WATCH: How to see Marc Marquez’s return and the rest of the 2020 MotoGP season

“Nobody expected to see him here, clearly,” Puig said (watch the interview above). “When the accident happened, we were very worried. Of course, he had to move to Barcelona for surgery.

“And after surgery, the rider started to feel very well. He started to contact us and said I’m feeling very well. I’m not in so much pain. I can move the arm. The nerve situation, as the doctor informed, was OK.”

Puig said the team originally planned to bring back Marquez in two weeks but now “after what we saw of Marc’s wishes, and after the doctor said today that they declared him fit, we came to an understanding that he will try on Saturday, and depending on how he’s feeling, he will try to race (Sunday).”

MotoGP also said that Alex Rins of Team Suzuki Ecstar and Cal Crutchlow of LCR Honda also were declared fit to ride. Crutchlow also suffered a fracture during the opening weekend.

How IndyCar rookie Sting Ray Robb got that name (and some more of his backstory)

IndyCar Sting Ray Robb
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Every NTT IndyCar Series season brings a new round of getting to know the rookies, and it’s fairly obvious where the story starts with Sting Ray Robb.

Just for clarification, “Robb” is the last name. His given name indeed is “String Ray” on the birth certificate.

Why, yes, he does come from performance-car parentage.

And yes, the IndyCar rookie named “Sting Ray” will be driving the No. 51 Dallara-Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware.

How did that go over with a mom and dad who clearly prefer American automotive brands?

“That’s a tricky question,” Robb said with a laugh Tuesday during the IndyCar Preseason Content Days. “Yeah, my parents are big Corvette fans, and I think that they ruled out criticizing me too badly because they know the dream is IndyCar.”

“I’ll be in a Honda car and I’m assuming it’ll go pretty quick, so I’m OK with all of that.”

“They’re not going to rename you ‘NSX’ or something?” asked Motorsport.com’s David Malsher-Lopez (whose bitingly sardonic wit is regularly heard in IndyCar media centers).

“No. I hope not,” Robb said. “My name is my name. I don’t need a rename, thank you.”

Robb, 21, has been making a name for himself lately, finishing second in last year’s Indy NXT standings with 11 top-five finishes, eight podiums and two pole positions.

But the Payette, Idaho, native also has an intriguing backstory beyond his successful four years in the Road to Indy ladder system (that also included the 2020 Indy Pro title).

He hails from the same small town (northwest of Boise on the Oregon border) that produced Minnesota Twins slugger and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

Robb, whose graduating class was less than 100, recently found that Wikipedia listed him and Killebrew as the “notable alumni” from Payette High School.

“It’s nice to be see and appreciate all the things that I’ve learned and been through,” said Robb, who also played some baseball in his day, adding that “I’m more of a consistent singles hitter, slap hitter if you want to call it. No home runs, just doubles or triples here and there.”

Some other facts on the newest memorable name of IndyCar:

–He’s managed by Pieter Rossi (father of Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner), but he also gets a lot of help from his mother, Kimmie.

“We call her my ‘momager’ because she’s my mom and my manager,” Robb said. “She has been a huge role in my career because she does things that I’m unable to do as a driver.

“She’s able to play hardball with the contracts, etc., and have my best interest in mind when it comes to negotiating, along with Pieter. He may be someone that has a lot of experience in the series with Alexander, but he may not know what’s best for me. It’s good to have them both on my side, and I can learn a lot from them.”

–His family have been lifelong supporters since go-karting. “It was my mom, my dad, my grandparents on the road every weekend,” he said. “My dad has missed one race in my entire life, and it was because he was in the hospital. So we let him have a pass, and he was still on the phone every 30 minutes making sure that tire pressure was right, engine temp was right, we had the right gear on the car, etc.”

–Robb graduated high school a year early to focus on racing after being home-schooled as a child. “I went to someone’s house actually, and she taught me from the time I was in pre-K through sixth grade,” Robb said. “So in seventh grade I started going to public school, and I hate to say it, but I feel like I stopped learning after that point. But it was OK. I got some social skills, lucky for you guys.”

–He also has a wild story about how he landed his current ride during a random encounter in a trip to the gym (which you can read about here).