Marc Marquez arrived today in Sepang apparently in great shape or in any case in much better shape than has been seen in the last two seasons.
His presence on the track, with the 2023 Honda RC213-V prototype, is the reason of greatest interest in the tests. Certainly more than the progress of Yamaha, the state of the art of Ducati or the progress made by Aprilia and KTM.
The reason is simple: 'Magic' has a contract with HRC that will expire at the end of 2024, but many think that the champion from Cervera has a way out if the prototype he will use starting tomorrow doesn't meet his needs, on the contrary if it does not satisfy his only objective, which is to regain the world title. The 9th in total, the 7th in MotoGP in which case he would level the score with Valentino Rossi.
Moreover, there is a survey - it is not clear how reliable – demonstrating that his popularity at the moment has exceeded that of the champion from Pesaro. But what does it refer to? Overall popularity (we have serious doubts) or simply the fact that Rossi's name (rightly) appears less today in searches involving the MotoGP hashtag?
Before crashing at Jerez three years ago, Marquez's worst season was 2015, when he finished third with 242 points and five victories and nine podiums. A performance that would have seen him fight for the title last year, so it can rightly be said that Marc left at least one title, if not more, on the plate.
However Marquez has definitely denied that he has a backdoor clause in his contract that would allow him to leave Honda and HRC.
"I couldn't start a world championship in which I aim to regain the title with such an idea in mind - said the Spaniard yesterday, who added - I have a lot of respect for Honda, especially for the way they treated me during the two years I was injured; how they took care of me, which was special. I know it wasn't normal, and that's why I will always have all the respect for Honda. My mind is only focused on getting back to the top with them. Then, of course, if I can't, because I feel I don't have the tools, I will try to find the best for me. My dream is to stay here, but my biggest dream is to win championships."
Time is flying also for Marc Marquez who will turn 30 on February 17th. And since we don't expect him to have a career as long as that of his great rival, Valentino Rossi, who however won his last title at the age of 30, Marc doesn't have many seasons ahead of him. And it seems that the best are now behind him.
In 2014 he won 10 consecutive GPs, taking victory in 13 out of 18 Grands Prix, annihilating the opposition. Today his rivals are even 10 years younger than him. Does this tell you something?
The most probable thing, therefore, is that, like Mick Doohan, Marquez ends his career in Honda, but everything will depend on the results this season. Furthermore, as far as the future is concerned, we don't believe Marc is looking for money: times have changed and the latest deal - 100 million in four years - is a thing of the past. The Spanish champion can afford to choose absolute quality, which makes it possible for the manufacturers who remained after Suzuki's farewell not to have to break the bank to sign him, at the latest, in two seasons. As long as Marquez is always Marquez.
This is why all eyes will be on him, and on his Honda from the moment he hits the track. His performance, or lack of performance, will overshadow everything else.