In a return that Mark Morrison would be proud of, Marc Marquez makes his much anticipated comeback this weekend, but how might he get on?
The eight-time World Champion will take to the MotoGP grid for the first time since July 2020, when he broke his shoulder in Round 1 at Jerez.
Since that point it’s been a rocky road to recovery for the Spaniard, and I think the time-frame since the injury to this weekend when he returns spells out just how tricky it’s been.
Marquez underwent surgery on the shoulder for a third time in December due to an infection, and in January he had a successful check-up six weeks after the operation.
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There were still doubts, even with the road to recovery looking positive, that the 28-year-old would return to action for the start of the season.
But the path to making a return began to widen, as the Honda rider took to the Catalunya and Portimao tracks on a RC213V-S Honda in March.
The two on-track appearances ramped up speculation that Marquez might return for the opening races in Qatar. However it was confirmed just a few days after the Portimao track-day that he would not.
With the first two rounds out of the question, the Spanish rider remained quiet on a return date, until April 10 when he confirmed on social media his much awaited comeback would happen at Portimao.
But just how might Marquez perform this weekend?
I think any MotoGP fan, myself included, believes we will see the ordinary Marc Marquez that has been racing in the premier-class since 2013.
It would be no surprise at all if Repsol Honda’s man turned up this weekend and won the race. That is something we have all got used to with Marquez, his approach to racing, to sum up in one word, is incredible.
There’s one side of me that genuinely believes the Spaniard can come to Portimao and take what would be a stunning victory, to mark his return in style. But there’s part of me that feels we may not see the ‘alien’ side of Marquez for a few races just yet.
Making a return to a series such as MotoGP, arguably one of the most competitive sports in the world, will be no easy feat. Yes, the man we are talking about has eight championships to his name, and has had a countless number of moments on track that have looked almost impossible to pull off.
However, the comeback will happen at one of the most intense and physically demanding circuits on the MotoGP calendar in the form of Portimao.
I believe it could be a tough race for Marquez, especially on the back of an injury that has hampered him since July last year, so if he was to finish in the top-10 I think that would be a good result.
Not only that, but his rivals will be confident they can get the better of him not just this weekend, but also as the year goes on. With Marquez out last year, nine different riders took to the top step of the podium, equaling 2016 as the year with the the most number of riders to take a victory.
Even with the Spaniard back on the grid, there’s now plenty of riders who believe they can take the fight to the man who has dominated the premier class since his debut year in 2013.
As the action gets underway in Portugal, I will remain torn as to how I think Marquez will get on in his first race back.
I believe we will see him come back to the grid hungrier than ever and show he hasn’t changed one bit, but the other side of me thinks the Honda rider might just play it cautiously in his first couple of races back.