This was a goal that the seven-time world champion had been pushing hard for all winter.
For the reigning MotoGP World Champion, the recent Sepang Test represented a milestone in his recovery from shoulder surgery as he and his bike were reunited for the first time and Marquez impressed with the fastest time at Sepang, closely followed by fellow Spaniards Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Yamaha YZR-M1).
After riding a practice bike the week before the test, Marquez and his physiotherapist Carlos J. García had decided to increase the intensity of their programme.
“When I woke up, it hurt. It’s difficult, the physio. Doing this in the morning, I’m very sleepy. I haven’t skipped a day, we started December 11th and we didn’t train on the 24th, 25th, 31st or 1st. These last few weeks are when it has hurt the most because everything is already set,” Marquez reflected before another physiotherapy session at home in Cervera.
“The hardest thing is the psychological side, I’ve done this since December 11 for two and a half hours in the morning and two and a half hours in the afternoon.”
“The hardest thing is the psychological side”
“There are days when he is very patient, especially in the first phase of the recovery process. Then, little by little, when the sling came off he was more anxious. ‘I’ve had the sling removed, I can do it!’ and I would tell him ‘No, you can’t do it, do not move your shoulder.’ There it was necessary to stop him a little bit because if it were up to him, on January 7th he would have been on a bike. He only wants to be on a bike!” explained Carlos, the physiotherapist who has worked exclusively with Marquez since December.
“They took the wheels off my bikes!” interjected Marquez.
“There were orders for all the bikes to be dismantled. When we went to the gym and we passed by some bikes and he climbed onto one, assumed the riding position and made noises as if he were on track. That’s how much he wanted to get on a bike again,” Carlos said.
“Don’t say that! They will say: ‘This guy is crazy!’” beamed Marquez as his shoulder was again pushed to the limit of its current mobility.
“The shoulder is better than during all of 2018, without a doubt”
While progress may not have been as rapid as Marquez had envisioned, Carlos remains certain that the surgery and subsequent recovery has been beneficial: “The shoulder is better than during all of 2018, without a doubt. Regarding his mobility, we are at 90%. What he does in terms of muscle to move his shoulder and arm is maybe 75-80% in terms of mobility strength.
“We are in this phase of giving stability to the entire shoulder complex. The shoulder has to remain stable; his body has to react without him focusing on his shoulder. He has to disconnect and not think about the shoulder, focus on riding and have his body reacting.”
“I am aware that it will be quality over quantity in terms of the amount of laps I do. More than anything, that’s to avoid causing tendonitis or similar. I am also aware that if in the test I can’t put in the laps that I would like, it is only a test.
“We will all leave Malaysia with zero points. I have to be prudent and not throw away the hours I’ve spent recovering, the two months I’ve been recovering and been patient,” said Marquez as he moved from the physio table to the gym next door.
Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team had the three-day Sepang Test to allow Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team to assess the 2019 RC213V, but also to evaluate the condition and progress of his injured left shoulder.
Official test rider Stefan Bradl took to the second Repsol Honda Team RC213V as Marquez’ new team-mate Jorge Lorenzo continues to recover from a broken scaphoid in his left hand.
The Repsol Honda Team will now travel to Qatar for the final pre-season test on February 23-25 where Marquez will be joined by Lorenzo.
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