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Interview
MotoGP British GP

Marc Marquez interview: On his injury recovery, Honda’s MotoGP progress and Rins

Marc Marquez has opened up on his 2023 MotoGP season, admitting it has been "one of the worst moments" of his career and Honda isn’t in the fight for victories.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Aside from the catastrophe caused by his crash and injury at Jerez in July 2020, for Marc Marquez the first part of the 2023 season has undoubtedly been one of the most unrecognisable moments of his career.

"Injury aside, this is the worst moment of my sporting life," he said after crossing the finish line 17th in the Assen sprint race on 24 June.

Marquez has 85 victories to his name, 59 of them in the premier class, but he has not been able to cross the finish line as a grand prix winner since 20 September, 2021, when he won the Emilia Romagna GP.

He hasn’t even completed a full grand prix since October 23, 2022, at the Malaysian GP.

The situation has triggered speculation about his future, pointing to a possible Honda exit even before completing his current contract which concludes at the end of 2024.

Autosport was able to speak exclusively to Marquez before this weekend’s British MotoGP, as he maintains his stance of "wanting to continue growing the project" at Honda, despite the fact that the Japanese marque is in its worst moment.

How are you with the rib injury that prevented you from staring the Dutch GP at Assen, are you 100% recovered?

Marc Marquez: "From the rib injury I recovered very well, very quickly. In fact, I had to rest for a week more than I wanted, but it went well for me because I went to Mallorca, but I wanted to start working earlier and I couldn't, I had to lengthen it due to the rib issue. But what bothered me the most was my [right] ankle, which was very inflamed. I tore a ligament and the area is still very inflamed to this day. It might be the case that I am not able to walk very well. This issue with my ankle has been causing me discomfort in my entire right leg, both in the knee and my upper leg. In the last few days I have improved, but it has taken me longer than I expected. I would have liked to have recovered. This last week I've already been able to do more on the bike, it's been going well. I stopped a day earlier [the test with the bike] due to discomfort, but physically I can say that I'm pretty good now."

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

When you left Assen you said you were going to the summer to rest, reflect and clear your mind. Have you been able to think and make a decision?

MM: "Yes, I have been able to think and assess. Above all, when you are calm at home is when you can think about what has happened in this first part of the season, what you have done wrong, what you have done well... and one of the things we will change for the second part of the season is the way to approach the races. Obviously I started the year, and I did not deny it, with the aim of fighting for victories and for the world title, but for one reason or another we are not ready, and I can't face the second part of the season thinking about fighting for the top positions. I've had too many injuries, it's been impossible to get into the rhythm and have confidence.

“So the objective for this second part of the season is to be, maybe less explosive, not looking for results, but with the aim of trying to continue growing with the project and, above all, regaining confidence in myself and race pace. Since Malaysia 2022, I haven't finished a long race, but in Le Mans I only had one lap left [he crashed two laps from the end when he was in third], but it's impossible to pick up a rhythm like that. I am human and even though I know how to go fast on a motorcycle, having the race pace is something else."

But for a rider who is used to winning like you, if you don't go looking for results, where will you get the motivation to compete?

MM: "Right now the motivation is to use willpower and sacrifice, to use routine. I said it at the last press conference [at Assen] and that's what I did this summer when I went to train, I tried to have a good time, I had fun doing flat track, which I hadn't practiced for a long time, I've ridden a small motorcycle, which helps me to have fun. I've looked for methods to try to have the best time possible. Little by little, as I feel better on the MotoGP bike and I see that I am doing better, surely the extra motivation to fight for victories will return. But we cannot hide the reality and today we are not prepared to fight to be among the top five.

"Maybe in some specific circuits it could happen, as was the case with me at Le Mans, or the case of Alex Rins in Austin. But these are specific situations. I stuck my head out in Portimao and Le Mans, but nowhere else. Rins stuck his head out in Austin, but he didn't for the rest of the season. So you have to be realistic."

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team crash

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team crash

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

During these five weeks of hiatus, have you been able to talk to someone from Honda in Japan, and what do you expect to find from your bike at Silverstone?

MM: "Yes, that's one of the things I've wanted to do, always be connected to both Alberto Puig and the test team. Stefan Bradl has been testing at Misano and Jerez, and when he gets to Silverstone they will tell me exactly what's new and what is not new. I know that the test team has been working, but then we have to see in practice if it works or not [what they have tested]. But they have continued to work and evolve, that is clear. We will see in the next races what comes and, above all, the most important thing is the Misano test, it is the last one we have and it is where the bikes begin to be tested for 2024."

You have talked about Rins and his victory in Austin, but his own team, LCR, has acknowledged that he negotiated with Yamaha to leave Honda and will replace Franco Morbidelli at the factory team in 2024. He made this decision only eight races into a two-year contract. Does that surprise you?

MM: "It does surprise me, especially because he himself said that the Honda was not such a bad bike, that you could win with it. But in such a short time he was already thinking of going to another brand, that surprises me, but hey, we respect his decision. It will be because he doesn't see that the Honda is such a good bike, but rather that he is looking for another project."

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