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Repsol Honda MotoGP team manager Alberto Puig on Marc Marquez; ‘This is not like when rider’s put a plate and race the next week. This is more serious, let’s say, and will need some time.’

 

Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez finished the 2021 MotoGP season as he had begun, missing the last two rounds due to injury.

 

Skipping the Qatar openers to give his infected July 2020 right-arm fracture more time to heal, the Spaniard spent his comeback events fighting a two-pronged battle against a weak arm and lack of technical performance from his Honda.

 

 

Just two race finishes with a best of seventh were scant reward for the effort put in, but the toil was finally rewarded with an emotional victory at the Sachsenring, an anti-clockwise track where his right-arm suffered less strain.

 

 

A lull in results followed, but with fitness and bike performance steadily improving the next anti-clockwise venue, Aragon, kick-started a run of four events where Marquez outscored all other riders, including back-to-back victories at COTA and the clockwise Misano.

 

 

Few would have bet against further podiums at Portimao and Valencia, which could have carried Marquez – Honda’s only MotoGP race winner since April 2018 – as high as fifth in the final world championship standings.

 

 

Then came the news that Marquez has suffered a ‘slight’ concussion in an off-road training accident and would miss Portimao.

 

 

Few believed such an innocent diagnosis would cause Marquez to abruptly withdraw several days before a race weekend and it was subsequently announced that he was suffering a repeat of his 2011 double-vision problem.

 

 

“Paralysis of the fourth right nerve with involvement of the right superior oblique muscle,” was how the doctor treating Marquez described the eye injury. “This fourth right nerve is the one that was already injured in 2011.”

In 2011, the injury kept Marquez off a Moto2 bike for four-and-a-half months, eventually required surgery by the same Doctor Sánchez Dalmau now overseeing his current treatment.

 

 

If that timeframe is repeated, Marquez would struggle to return for the 2022 Qatar season opener on March 6, let alone take part in any pre-season testing.

 

 

“Yes, this is a very similar injury to 2011 with Moto2 in Sepang,” Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig confirmed at the MotoGP season finale.

 

 

“Of course, this is not a bone, it’s something I would say a little bit more complicated. More delicate. It’s something that you have to be calm and see how it goes.

 

 

“It’s not so easy to know how a nerve or an eye can react but the doctor was positive. What he mentioned more was that we have to be patient. Because this is not like when many riders crash and they put a plate and race the next week.

“This is more serious, let’s say, and will need some time.

 

 

“Of course I want to be confident and I’m not a doctor but I hear what they said and of course we have to think positive. I think that the key point for this is, as I said, a very difficult thing, we have to be patient.

 

 

“Patience is something that there is not much of in our sport! But this is how it is and let’s hope that he is lucky and can go back to full fitness.”

 

Puig added that Marquez understands nothing can be done to rush his recovery.

 

 

“I think sometimes life brings you to situations where you have to be patient, because you don’t have any other option. Marquez is a clever guy and I think he understood it like this.

 

 

“Many times you try and normally sportsman, we are always trying to do things that are outside the book. But when we are talking about the vision, I think of course he is going to be patient and will take the situation he has now with a lot of calm.

 

 

“It’s not like if we were talking about a wrist or an arm or something different.”

 

 

Marquez missed not only the two season-ending rounds but following Jerez test, when development of Honda’s all-new RC213V was left in the hands of team-mate Pol Espargaro plus LCR riders Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami.

 

 

“Now we will have to have a second year of development without a rider that has won a lot of races,” Puig said. “It’s not the best scenario, but racing is not always what you want.

 

 

“So now we will have to try to understand what our direction is with the other three guys, that of course are fast, but they don’t have the experience of winning with this bike that Marc has. But this is what it is.

 

 

“Our position is, unfortunately, this thing happened [to Marquez] and there’s nothing we can do as a factory, just wait. And this is what Honda is going to do. We understand the value of this rider, his potential. We don’t need to explain Marc’s skill.

 

 

“So Honda will keep on working, trying to find the bike for next year, and when the the time comes, when he’s ready, we will give him the bike that we think is our best selection of all the parts and info we collect from the other riders.

 

 

“There’s nothing special we are going to do but wait until Marc is back and fit.”

 

The next MotoGP track action Marquez would be eligible to take part in, should his vision have recovered enough, is the official Sepang test on February 5-6 and inaugural Mandalika test on February 11-13.

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