So in the end Marc Marquez had surgery for the third time in a few months and it should be the decisive one. The condition of the Spanish champion's arm did not improve and a bone graft on the humerus had to be applied to solve the problem of pseudarthrosis.
Marc was in the operating room for 8 hours, as Honda reported, and from today he will be able to start a recovery that is expected to be a particularly long one. For interventions of this type we are talking about 3 months of total rest and the same amount for rehabilitation. After what happened, it is highly unlikely that the doctors and Marquez will speed things up, so as we wait for more precise information, we can start thinking about what could be a possible date to see him back on the track.
After a few quick calculations, May could be a good month for his return. What would that mean? For the moment we can only rely on the provisional calendar for next season: the first race is scheduled for 28 March in Qatar, followed by the GPs of Argentina and Texas on 11 and 18 April, then Jerez on 2 May and Le Mans on 16. It can therefore be assumed (with all the 'ifs' and 'buts' of the case) that Marquez could miss the first four races of the year, as well as all the winter tests.
However, there is only talk of a draft calendar, because the Coronavirus epidemic is not yet over, and the Grands Prix that are most at risk are precisely those outside Europe. This means that Marc could miss even fewer than 4 races. However, even if he did not participate at the beginning of the championship, the season would still be long and he would have the opportunity to use it to shake off the rust accumulated in a year of inactivity and get back into full shape for 2022.
The problem for Honda would be to replace him until his return. Clearly, the first name that comes to mind is Andrea Dovizioso, who is free of any contract for 2021. But would that really be the best choice for both parties?
Dovi refused Yamaha's offer to be a test rider and some wild cards next year and there had also been similar contacts with Honda. "I want a project that allows me to fight for the title," he said several times this season. Substituting Marc for a handful of races with no other prospects would not be his wish.
Furthermore, Andrea's presence would risk creating some embarrassment. With Marc sidelined, Dovizioso would represent the most successful rider in the Honda team, made up for next year by Alex Marquez, Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargarò. Dovi would have all the right cards to be the first rider and if that happens it would at the very least be rather unpleasant to put him back on the bench. As they sometimes say after a job interview, Dovi is simply too qualified.
The Dovizioso card would only be viable in the unfortunate event that Marc's recovery turns out to be longer than expected and he could not get back onto the track for the whole year. Otherwise, Stefan Bradl would once again be the easier and perhaps better choice. The German test rider has done more than a decent job this season, even more so in the last race in Portimao. He is not a rider to aim for the title with, but he has proved to be very useful for testing new stuff directly in the GPs and the RC213V has benefited from this.
At this moment we are simply in the realm of speculation, the next few weeks, perhaps months, will be decisive to find out more about Marc's recovery time, with the hope that his ordeal is heading towards a conclusion once and for all.