Don’t look at his times; if anything, have a look at the strength of the rider, who, just over one month after the surgery on his right shoulder, has returned to his Honda, challenging the demanding weather conditions in Sepang. Hats off for this to Marc Marquez, who is gearing up for the next championship as best as he can, despite the problems.
"The situation is completely the opposite to last year - began the Honda rider, after setting the 12th fastest time of the day, seven-tenths from the top - In 2019 I had more strength, but less pain, but now it is the exact opposite. I expected this before I came here, but I felt worse than I imagined, especially after the first lap. I started off full of energy, but when I stopped in the garage, I realized that it was necessary to have patience and take one step at a time otherwise I would not have been able to finish the day. So, I only did 35 laps. Tomorrow I will try to do 45, but I know I mustn’t be in a hurry to recover from the injury. "
Marc, do you have a personal deadline to sort out this shoulder problem?
“This I cannot know. In general, I feel better than last year, since I have less pain, but the problem is the muscles. If the first GP was in two weeks’ time, I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. It’s a question of the nerves, there is a small injury, not due to an error in the operation, and to the muscle tone, which must recover".
How much does the fact of finding yourself one year later in the same situation play in your favour?
"I will try to use the experience, even if it is difficult to understand the conditions after an operation. For sure what I learned last year in the tests in Malaysia is to be patient, without looking at the times or the one lap. I have to take care of my body, trying not to hurry at all costs and keep calm."
Among the topics of interest of the Malaysian test there is also the question related to the new rear Michelin.
“The new rear tyre is different and offers better grip than in the past, especially over one lap. Maybe this aspect will come in handy for several riders, but we will have to understand how the tyre will behave in the race in terms of wear. Personally, I am confident with what I have seen."
Marc, as far as the development work is concerned, where are we at?
"Today I tried some small new things to understand the engine and electronics, in order to have parameters to compare. Compared to last year there are some updates, even if the character of the engine remains more or less the same".
How was the path that led you up to this first test?
“In the last few weeks I have done 92 rehabilitation sessions and 250 hours of work in the gym and the swimming pool. I cancelled my holidays to be ready for the Qatar GP. Usually it takes four months to recover from such an injury, but if you want to be ready faster you have to move quickly and concentrate. I focused on mobility, muscle strength, especially the deltoid. In these 250 hours there are activities in the gym, swimming pool and much more. We started slowly with my physiotherapist regarding the pace, and then increased".
Were you surprised by Yamaha?
“Yamaha were very quick in making their decisions. After all, that’s the way the market works. When a young rider proves to be fast, it means he is strong. They have created a team with an eye to the future and they will certainly be the candidates for the world championship. My contract? Obviously, we have started talking to Honda, the priority is to stay with them".
Are the team worried about your condition?
“When I made the decision to have an operation, it was difficult. Alberto Puig asked me: "Are you prepared for a hard winter?" I answered yes. I knew it would be difficult in particular from a mental point of view. It was not easy to spend these months, without even having a day off, especially sleeping little at night, but in the end, this is my job. Racing isn't just about winning races. My riding style requires a certain amount of risk, and this is part of the game."
Audio recording by Paolo Scalera.