When will Marc Marquez be back on a MotoGP bike?
That was the burning question during the injured eight-time world champion’s media duties that followed today’s Repsol Honda online presentation.
But at the moment the only thing that’s clear is that the Spanish star will not take part in next month’s Qatar tests.
Marquez’s next target is to return for the season-opening race on March 28, but it’s very much a rolling deadline that will depend on the results of bone consolidation.
“I will not ride in Qatar test. This we already forget,” Marquez said. “And then mid-March I have another doctor’s check on my arm. That is when the doctors will check the bone consolidation and we will see.
“My target was to be in the Qatar test. The doctors said no. I accept. My second target now is to try and be in the Qatar race. The doctors will decide.
“If it’s not possible, then I’ll try to be in Qatar 2. If that’s not possible, I’ll try to be in Portimao. This will be the process.
“But I will ride MotoGP bike when I feel in an acceptable way, in good condition. I mean now, even if tomorrow the doctors say ‘you can ride a bike’, I’m not in the conditions to ride a bike.
“When the bone consolidation is okay, fixed 100%, then I’ll try to continue working in a good way to recover all the muscles. When my physical condition is in a correct way – not 100%, because that will take a lot of time – to ride a MotoGP bike, I will do.
“The only clear target is I will not ride in the Qatar test. But another target is that this week I feel better than last week. This is the main target.”
Marquez fractured his right arm in the closing stages of last July’s Jerez season-opener after charging from 19th to third place.
The original fracture was plated on July 21, but it failed due to stress accumulation caused by an attempt to return to action the following weekend. A new plate was then fitted on August 3, with the #93 saying he hoped to return by the end of the season.
But the bone failed to heal after the second operation, a condition medically described as pseudarthrosis, requiring a third operation and bone graft last December.
Tests during the operation also revealed an infection, the cause of his pseudarthrosis, requiring lengthy antibiotic treatment.
While the bone is now beginning to heal, for the first time since arriving in MotoGP in 2013 Marquez approaches a new season without expecting to be part of the title fight.
“Normally the goal for a season, for a rider, is to try and win the championship and find small details to fight for the championship. But this 2021 season is completely different, my main goal is trying to enjoy being on the bike again,” he said.
“This will be the main target for me: to be on the bike again, enjoy the bike and then step-by-step start to be as fast as I was. But you can’t pretend to arrive one year without being on the bike and be the same Marc in the first race [back]… We will see if it takes one race, two races, half the season to be the same Marc.”
Marquez will have a new team-mate for 2021 with Pol Espargaro arriving at Repsol Honda in place of Marc’s younger brother Alex, who switches to LCR.