Despite his injury clearance, Marc Marquez won’t race MotoGP Sunday

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Defending series champion Marc Marquez won’t race with an injury in Sunday’s second grand prix of the season at Jerez after being cleared with a fractured right arm.

Marquez was injured after crashing with four laps remaining in Sunday’s season opener. He underwent successful surgery Tuesday in Barcelona, and doctors said there was no nerve damage. He was cleared by MotoGP medical staff upon returning Thursday to the Circuit de Jerez.

But after testing himself on the No. 93 bike during practice Saturday morning, Marc Marquez returned immediately to the garage after making a lap in qualifying Saturday afternoon.

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Marquez said he had at least to take a shot at testing whether he could race Sunday in the Andalucia Grand Prix.

“When you have a passion for something, you try,” he said in an interview after qualifying (watch the video above). “Today I will sleep well because I tried. It wasn’t possible, but what I did was only follow my body. My body said you must try. This was the plan.”

Marquez said he initially felt good on the bike during the morning practice, but his right elbow began acting up late in the session and again as soon as he began in qualifying. He speculated the warm weather might have caused inflammation.

The loss of strength in his arm “becomes dangerous. My body in that moment (said), ‘Stop.’ I promised to Honda if I feel unsafe, I will stop, and that’s what I did.

“I want to say thanks to all doctors, officials, team, we tried, and they put in a lot of hard work.”

Marquez said he intends to race in the Aug. 9 grand prix at the Automotodrom Brno in the Czech Republic.

“I want to fight for a championship,” he said. “Now the main priority is try to be better for physical condition. I will start working hard in the next hour for Brno. I won’t be 100 percent, but I’ll try to fight on the bike and enjoy my passion on the bike.”

Repsol Honda Team manager Alberto Puig said the team decided it was best for Marquez to stop after it became too painful.

“When you have an injury and the body says that’s it, that’s it,” Puig said (watch the interview below). “Real champions always try, and this is what he did. The courage he showed was unbelievable. We still have 11 races to go and for sure aren’t going to give up. Marc will recover and the team will be there for him.”

Marquez had yet to miss a race in MotoGP’s premier division since entering the series in 2013 and winning six of the past seven championships.

Saturday’s practcie and qualifying sessions at Jerez were eventful for the Honda factory team as Alex Marquez, Marc’s younger brother, crashed during qualifying. Though he was holding his right arm, Alex Marquez avoided serious injury.

In Sunday’s race at Jerez (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN), Fabio Quartararo will start on the pole for the second consecutive week after becoming the first Frenchman in more than 20 years to win in MotoGP’s premier division last week. Maverick Vinales set the fast time, but it was wiped out for exceeding track limits.

SuperMotocross: Ken Roczen urgently needed change

Roczen change
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Change can be frightening, but it is often exhilarating and Ken Roczen, a rider in his ninth season on a 450 bike, it was urgently needed.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with his worst performance in five years. After finishing outside of the top five in seven of his last eight rounds in the stadium series, well down the points’ standings in ninth, he decided to put that season on hold.

How it ended was in stark contrast to how it began. Roczen’s 2022 season got off to the best possible start. He won the Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California by more than seven seconds over the 2021 champion Cooper Webb.

That would be his last podium and he scored only one more top-five in the Glendale, Arizona Triple Crown.

MORE: Ken Roczen sweeps top five in Anaheim 2 Triple Crown

Before 2022, Roczen was a regular challenger for the championship despite being plagued by major accidents that required surgery in 2017 and 2018. On his return, he was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, which presents with symptoms of heavy fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of appetite and last year he tested positive for COVID-19.

Against those odds, he finished second in the outdoor season in 2019 and third in 2020. In the Supercross series, he finished third in 2020 and second in 2021.

But the abbreviated season of 2022 signaled a need for change for Roczen.

“I needed the change urgently,” Roczen said in last week’s post-race press conference at Angel Stadium. “I did a pretty big change in general.”

Those comments came three races into the 2023 with him sitting among the top three finishers for the first time in 10 Supercross rounds. It was the 57th podium of his career, only six behind 10th-place Ryan Villopoto. It was also the first for Suzuki since 2019 when Chad Reed gave them one in Detroit 63 rounds ago.

Taking time off at the end of the Supercross season had the needed effect. He rejoined SuperMotocross in the outdoor season and immediately stood on the podium at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. Two rounds later, he won at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. The relief was short lived and he would not stand on the podium again until this year.

Roczen Motocross Round 3
Ken Roczen won Round 3 of the outdoor season in 2022 at Thunder Valley after finished second in Moto 1 and first in Moto 2. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Winds of Change

Roczen’s offseason was dramatic. Citing differences over his announcement to compete in the World Supercross Championship, he split with Honda HRC and declared himself a free agent. It wasn’t a difficult decision; Roczen was signed only for the Supercross season.

That change had the desired effect. Roczen won the WSX championship in their two-race, pilot season. More importantly, he proved to himself that he could compete for wins.

Late in the offseason, Roczen announced he would also change manufacturers with a move to HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki. He won the 2016 Pro Motocross title for Suzuki with nine wins in 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second. He easily outran the competition with an advantage of 86 points over second-place Eli Tomac.

“I just think change overall made it happen – and these overseas races – it’s really just a snowball,” Roczen said. “You start somewhere and you feel like something works out and I got better and had more fun doing it. Working with the team as well and working on the motorcycle to get better and actually see it paying off. It’s just, it’s just a big boost in general.”

The return to Suzuki at this stage of his career, after nearly a decade of competing on 450 motorcycles, recharged Roczen. He is one of three riders, (along with Cooper Webb and his former Honda teammate Chase Sexton), with a sweep of the top five in the first three rounds of the 2023 Supercross season.

But last week’s podium really drove home how strong he’s been.

“I think we’re all trying to take it all in,” Roczen said. “I wouldn’t say it came out of nowhere really, but before the season starts you think about – or I thought of how my whole last season went – and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium.”

Roczen’s most recent podium prior to Anaheim 2 came at Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland last August in Round 10 of the outdoor season. His last podium in Supercross was the 2022 season opener that raised expectations so high.

Supercross Round 1 results
Ken Roczen raised expectations with his season opening win at Anaheim but did not stand on the box again in the Supercross series. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

The change Roczen needed was not just a different team and bike. More importantly, he needed the freedom to set his own schedule and control his training schedule.

“It’s long days, but I’m really into it at the moment,” Roczen said. “Overall, I felt [that] throughout this off season and now my health has been really well, really good, so that helps. It’s needed to get to the top. I’m pretty confident that we’re, we’re doing the right thing – that I’m doing the right thing.

“I’m doing all my training on my own and I’m planning out my entire week. And I feel like I have a really good system going right now with recovery and putting in some hard days. Right now, I don’t really have anybody telling me what to do. I’m the best judge of that.

“It’s really hard to talk about how much work we’ve put in, but we’ve been doing some big changes and riding a lot throughout the week, some really, really late days. And they’re paying off right now; we’re heading in the right direction. We’re all pulling on the same string, and that helps me out big time.”