260 days after his 2020 Spanish GP crash, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was back in the MotoGP™ paddock with a smile on his face. The eight-time World Champion’s biggest test comes on Friday morning when he returns to the track on his RC213V for the first time in nine months, but Marquez underwent another challenge he’s missed for a while: facing the media on a Grand Prix Thursday.
More than chuffed to be back, after he’d participated in Grande Prémio 888 de Portugal pre-event Press Conference, Marquez remained in the hot seat to have a dedicated Press Conference in Spanish. Here, the famous number 93 went into great detail about everything that he’s been through in the past nine months, as well as the challenges that lay ahead on track.
“First of all, I am happy to be with you, with the whole MotoGP family in general, happy with butterflies in my stomach. I was aware that it was a normal weekend... when FP1 passes, it will be more normal,” began Marquez. “I am also uncertain about what it will be like after nine months to ride a MotoGP bike. We come here without an objective at the level of results.
“The goal is to ride a motorcycle again and do the most important step in my recovery: to be a rider again, to return to competition. From there, burn through the stages. I'm not 100% physically. Together with the doctors we believed that it was time. The bone is already consolidated, which is the important thing. Now comes the physical and mental part, which is feeling like a MotoGP rider again, going at 300km/h and having the first crash after so long. And it will arrive. If I'm here, it's because it can happen.
“Logically, you perceive and in the end you feel it that in the media there is great expectation, but you must know how to isolate yourself, focus with your team and not feel more pressure than there should be. There should be none, there will be time, I myself am the one who demands myself to be at the top. Now it is simply going out, feeling it and taking little steps during the weekend. This part of the season is my pre-season and from there we will see.
“It's been nine months that… Because of the anxiety of going out on the track and about my future, because of my arm, which was what worried me the most. I have learned that there are many races, life, if you know how to take care of it, there is also a lot. But there is one body and you should know how to understand it without rushing. It is what we have done in this recovery. Until in a meeting with all the doctors we made a unanimous decision to return, I did not. That is why I did not return to Qatar.”
The first crash… the sooner it arrives, the better?
“Logically, it will arrive. Hopefully sooner rather than later. It's one of the things I told the doctor. When I go back to riding my motorcycle, my arm should be ready to crash. I am going to risk and crashes will come and the body must be ready. Then it will be important that I get up, that I get back on the bike and this is part of it. What worries me the most is not the first crash, but riding the way I want again.”
What riders have you seen grow the most?
“If you watch it from the TV and the sofa, they have all grown. Mir has grown a lot. He is the current Champion and has the experience of achieving a title. It remains to be seen this season if Quartararo and Viñales make the final leap. Who is the leader in Ducati because it is not clear, Zarco is surprising at the moment. Until four or five races have passed in Europe, not everything is defined. I wouldn't bet on anyone because I wouldn't know who to bet on. Then we will see during the season if we can be in the group in front so that we do not rule out anything without setting a clear objective.”
What was the hardest moment mentally during the injury layoff?
“Perhaps the hardest was October to November, which had been two months since the second operation, almost three but I saw that something was not working. My feelings, whatever I did - some weeks I worked more, others I had rest - I noticed that something was not right. I decided to have surgery because something was not right and so the doctors advised me. With the infection, it was hard because I did not know exactly what was happening. It was hard for me to get a bottle at home, and my family paid for it. They were hard days with the third operation, but in the end everything happened.”
The current difference in the Championship is 40 points, what are your thoughts?
“In regards to the points, I am neither worried nor obsessed. It is clear that you look at it and you see it, because you have to see it, but I am not obsessed at all because from the outset it is not my fight or my main objective. If the first objectives are met, then we will think about the big objective, which is the title.”
What have you missed more: riding a MotoGP™ bike or winning?
“We will try to start step by step, but it is true that I carry competitiveness within and during this time at home, with Alex, I think I have spent more hours on the PlayStation than ever. With my arm in a sling, I couldn't do much. I also tried to enjoy it at home, to go for a walk, a different lifestyle. During this time, what you miss is riding a MotoGP bike. What I want for tomorrow is to come and hit the track.”
Marc Marquez and his MotoGP™ competitors will head out onto the Algarve International Circuit’s asphalt at 09:55 local time (GMT+1) on Friday. When we say you don’t want to miss it, you really, really don’t.