SPAIN: Marc Marquez (pix) is hoping to be passed fit to compete in this weekend’s Andalucia Grand Prix despite breaking his arm in Jerez last week to avoid leaving his rivals with an excellent chance to steal an early march in the MotoGP title race.
The six-time elite-class world champion crashed out of the delayed season-opening Spanish Grand Prix last Sunday as France’s Fabio Quartararo took his maiden MotoGP victory.
But just two days after having a titanium plate inserted in his right arm in the operation in a Barcelona hospital, his team Honda announced he would be at the Jerez circuit on Thursday where he is hoping to get the green light to ride.
If he fails the medical Honda are not replacing him on their factory bike.
Initial forecasts suggested the earliest Marquez was expected to resume was in the Czech Grand Prix on Aug 9.
After Tuesday’s surgery Honda team manager Alberto Puig had said: “Now we have to be patient to see how Marc recovers and to understand when he can return.”
LCR-Honda’s Cal Crutchlow is also hoping to get the all clear to be fit after he underwent surgery on his left wrist.
With only 13 MotoGP races confirmed so far for the 2020 season, Marquez’s absence would hand Quartararo and Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales a potentially telling advantage.
Quartararo dominated last week despite only riding for Yamaha’s satellite outfit, finally converting a pole position into a MotoGP win at the seventh time of asking.
The 21-year-old, the first Frenchman to win a MotoGP race since 1999, insists he can still get better.
“Winning the GP, honestly it was the best,” said Quartararo, who finished fifth in the riders’ standings last season as a rookie.
“I think we can still improve because the pace of those around us was really good so we need to look to see which areas we should work on.
“We need to enjoy this victory but also focus on the next race this weekend as this new calendar is intense with few breaks so it’s important to stay concentrated.”
ROSSI UNDER PRESSURE
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi will be replaced at Yamaha’s factory team by Quartararo in 2021 and the Italian veteran was left trailing by the winner last week.
The 41-year-old retired from the race after struggling in qualifying and a final tilt at an eighth top-class title appears unlikely.
“The Spanish GP was difficult for me. I struggled a lot in the heat because of tyre degradation,” said Rossi, who has suggested he will probably take Quartararo’s spot at Yamaha-SRT next year.
“I feel good and I’m ready to fight again.”
Rossi’s teammate Vinales helped deliver a one-two for Yamaha bikes last week and the Spaniard will be hoping to mount a serious title challenge this year after finishing third in 2019, albeit 209 points behind Marquez.
Ducati will be hoping for better pace after Andrea Dovizioso’s third-place finish masked the disappointment of a poor qualifying.
However, it was still a personal triumph for Dovizioso who had broken his collarbone in a training accident just three weeks earlier.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins is hoping to join Marquez and Crutchlow and get the all clear to ride after suffering a shoulder injury in qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix.
“I’ll give it a go on Friday,” wrote Crutchlow on Instagram ahead of opening practice.
Honda’s factory team may only feature Marquez’s younger brother Alex, who laboured to 12th on his MotoGP debut after winning the Moto2 championship last year.
“I am confident for the weekend, I learned a lot in my first GP and now I can apply it directly on the track again,” he said. – AFP