After 265 days off his bike due to a broken and slowly healing right arm, MotoGP rider Marc Marquez has climbed back on his bike for practice at Portimao ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix. And what does he have to say for his already-impressive lap times? “I don’t understand what’s going on. I’m just riding the bike, trying to follow my way.”
Yep. The Honda rider is back in fine form already, despite many months of recovery from a broken arm that required multiple surgeries and looked set to keep him out of the running until as late as May or June. But he’s already made a triumphant return at the third race of the season.
In the first practice session, Marquez set the third-fastest time. In the second session, he was sixth. In the most recent, he was 15th, which means he narrowly missed out on automatic entrance into Q2, which would have guaranteed him a starting spot in the first three rows of the grid. But that’s still pretty damn impressive for someone jumping right back into the throes of competition.
Marquez himself seemed a little stunned. He told Motorsport.com:
It was a great day, a great feeling and honestly speaking I go out on the first run—the track was not so good, but immediately I felt good on the bike. In the morning, in terms of feeling, I felt better than in the afternoon because I was fresh. The arm was fresh and I had power.
Then already in the afternoon I struggled a little bit more to warm up the arm and I start to feel the arm was a little bit more tired. Apart from that, we are in a much better situation than what we expected before the weekend.
I don’t know how, because I don’t understand what’s going on. I’m just riding the bike, trying to follow my way.
The lap times are coming; it’s not the most important thing, but they are coming in a good way. But it’s true the main question mark for me—the speed is there—so it’s about how the arm will react during the weekend when I get up tomorrow.”
He went on to qualify in the second row, in sixth place—an impressive run.
Of course, how Marquez fares in both qualifying and the race will be the true test of his ability. As the man himself noted, he definitely felt fatigued as the weekend wore on, which seems to suggest that we should keep reasonable expectations for him on race day.
But then again, this is Marc Marquez. If anyone could come back to MotoGP after recovering from a months-long injury and win a race, it would be him.