There is no target date for a return by Marc Marquez from the injury that cost him the 2020 season, but the eight-time MotoGP champion at least has a goal.
“On the mental side, it’s hard, but you need to focus and always try to find the biggest goal,” Marquez said during a recent interview from Dorna Sports (the commercial arm of MotoGP). “The biggest goal was to be at the Qatar test. I won’t be at the test. The second goal is to be at the Qatar race. The doctors will say, and the body will say about that. But if not, then Qatar 2, or the next race. You need to work every day.”
After two tests at Sepang International Circuit last month, MotoGP will hold its final preseason session March 10-12 at the Losail International Circuit north of Doha, Qatar. The 2021 season will open at the same track March 28 with a second race scheduled April 4.
Though Marquez still has no timetable for when he will ride again, he said he feels “much better day by day, week by week” after a frustrating series of three surgeries last year on the right arm he fractured in a crash during the July 19, 2020 season opener.
The Spaniard tried to return for the following race after no nerve damage was discovered in an initial surgery to stabilize the arm. But Marquez experienced discomfort while trying to practice, and he skipped the rest of the season and later said the return was “hasty.”
After a Feb. 3 checkup, the Repsol Honda rider said the right arm bone is consolidating well after a graft last season, allowing him to increase weights in his rehabilitation.
“I feel happy because I’ve started to work,” he said. “ I was just there sitting on sofa and wasn’t able to do anything. Step by step, I feel (improvement) on the arm.
“With a seven-month injury, it’s hard on the mental side. In September and October, the arm had the same feeling, it didn’t feel any better or worse. It was all the same, and I wasn’t able to do any steps. But since the last surgery I started to feel every week and month different feelings, and that is important.”
A mid-March evaluation is expected to evaluate his progress and possibly determine if he’ll be healthy enough to return to the team’s new lineup this year.
After being scheduled to be paired last season with his younger brother, Alex, Marc Marquez will be teamed in 2021 with Pol Espargaro. The fellow Spaniard had a career-high five podiums and two pole positions for KTM in MotoGP last season.
“Coming from KTM, Pol finished in a good way,” Marquez said. “He knows where he’s coming, and Repsol is a team you must fight for podium every race and win races. He’s hungry to do that. This will be a new challenge also for me with a teammate that wants to come in and beat me.”
The 2021 season is about to start! 🔴🔴#MM93 pic.twitter.com/BJMnSogcye
— Marc Márquez (@marcmarquez93) February 22, 2021
Regardless of when he returns, Marquez will be much happier on a bike than spending another season watching races on TV.
“In the beginning, when I was home, I tried to analyze everything, but I was not a fan watching the races,” he said. “I tried to help my brother, but it’s not the same. It was strange to sit on a sofa every Sunday and watch the MotoGP race.”
During recent preseason promotional activities, Marquez said it was “nice to just wear the leather suit again” after the longest stretch of being sidelined in his career.
“I’m really excited to ride the bike first of all,” he said of his return. “In the 2021 season, I don’t know when it’ll start. That’s the big question for me at the moment. Hopefully sooner than later. I feel much better day by day, week by week. We need to be patient.”