The countdown has begun. Fourteen days from now. This is the time that Marc Marquez has available for his return to the world championship, as the first free practice session in Losail is scheduled for 26 March.
Let's try to put ourselves in his shoes, what would we do?
Taking for granted his desire to get back on the bike, if his physical conditions allow it - and the press release issued after the medical examination is unequivocal - the road-map for these two weeks should foresee a gradual return to the handlebars. At first a soft approach, a motorcycle with a high handlebar, then a nice Honda CBR 1000 RR-R with almost 220 hp, and finally a MotoGP bike.
In the meantime, however, since economic problems don’t exist, he would also fit in a nice trip to Qatar, by private plane, to have his first jab of Pfizer vaccine made available by the agreement that Dorna has made with the Emirate country.
Returning in time for the practice sessions would allow Marc to complete the vaccine process and decide whether to take to the track for the first session or day of testing. Without having to race as Stefan Bradl is ready to replace him in the garage.
It’s a 'narrow' road-map for his return to motorcycles, but awaiting him in Qatar is first the Pfizer vaccine
This is what we would do. A gamble? Not if we felt fit enough to do it. The fact of being able to decide whether or not to compete would be our passport to serenity, with the great psychological turbo boost - in case we decide to continue and race - to be able to take to the track just to get a handful of points. That would already be a good tally as it would allow us to face the next race without the pressure of having to recover 25 points immediately.
This is merely our reconstruction of what might be going through the mind of 'Magic Marc'. As for the rumour that is now circulating in the paddock that the containers with his helmets and leathers have been spotted, we do not give them much weight: it is quite obvious that they are there, because they travel with the equipment of the Repsol-Honda team box. In short, we are not getting worked up about this, just as we did not get worked up when the list of riders entered in the world championship was published. Anyone who might have been surprised when they saw that Marc was entered, understands very little or absolutely nothing about racing: what on earth were they thinking… that Honda had entered Bradl? Come on, it might be a good idea to switch on your brain before sitting down at the laptop…
Having said that, if the name of the Cervera champion in a list of entries means nothing, if not the obvious, movements of recent days have some meaning, and even if what we wrote before is our speculation, obviously it has a basis of truth, but we don't want to pass it off as 'news'. It is simply a possibility, but whether or not it’s probable is another matter.
We have not deliberately - but we do now - included the matter of 'the show' among the variables: how much would it be worth for the Pay-TVs (which are suffering in this period) and for sponsors to see Marc Marquez again?
We’ll tell you: a helluva lot. It would be an incredible boost for the championship. And we don’t want to offend the intelligence of Carmelo Ezpeleta and Dorna by writing that they might not have thought of it…
So let’s wait and see what happens, shall we? It is stories like these that make us love our sport, because it is clear that at this moment Marc, the multiple champion, the racing genius, is no longer the favourite, but the challenger. As a champion and sportsman he knows very well, however, that before returning to fly, he will have to win a first challenge against a very tough opponent: himself.