Six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez has admitted that the vision problems that saw him sit out the last two races of the 202 season and the first test of 2022 last November remains a potential future Achilles’ heel of his – with a possibility for the injury to reoccur in the future despite whatever action he takes to mitigate the risk.
The Repsol Honda rider suffered a recurrence of the diplopia that cost him a chance at the 2011 Moto2 title when he crashed an enduro bike while training just before the penultimate race of last season, the crash impacting a nerve controlling his eyesight and leaving him spending all winter with double vision and episodes of dizziness.
Opting for a conservative treatment regime rather than the surgery he resorted to in 2011, Marquez is starting 2022’s pre-season tests in Sepang fully healed – but he admitted after the first day of action at the Malaysian track that his propensity for this type of injury is simply down to his physiology, and that a repeat could happen at any time.
”This is one point that when I spoke with my doctor was my first question,” he explained when asked about the potential for it to happen again. “‘If I crash in Malaysia, what’s the possibility of creating the same problem?’ The answer was clear – the possibility is the same [now] as I will have in two years.
“The nerve is there, and if I crash tomorrow or crash in two years, and touch the nerve, the damage will be there.
“I think I have strong bones, [because] during all the crashes, I’ve only broken one, the humerus, but that nerve, that specific one – the doctor doesn’t know why it is my weak point.”
However, with the injury fully recovered for now – and with a 10-year gap since the last time it had happened despite Marquez being one of the most crash-prone riders on the grid in the interim – he’s not dwelling on the issue, and instead pushing ahead with getting into shape for the coming season.
That’s a task that has also been hindered by the injury, though, with the enforced absence from riding any motorcycles at all meaning that he takes to the track in Sepang not fully up to speed – and as a result not able to concentrate on developing a very different 2022 Honda RC213V.
“Without riding a MotoGP bike for a long time,” he admitted, “and especially not riding a lot this winter time – yeah, I rode the past two weeks, but not like usual – this creates [a problem]. The speed is there, but the feeling to try things, the feeling of the limit, the feeling of the lines – you lose all this. You need to get to this point by doing laps.
“Today [Saturday] I said to the team ‘forget trying things, I need to do laps’. We finished with the same bike we started. We tried a few things, but not much. Tomorrow, if I feel ready, I will say I feel ready and we will try some things.”
And while the recovery from his vision problems has gone well, there are still some lingering problems to be overcome with his physical condition – as the broken arm at Jerez in 2020 continues to cause ongoing knock-on issues.
“This winter, my main problem has been the vision,” he said, “and we’ve taken care of that. But we haven’t forgotten the arm.
“I feel better, but the muscles you work on the bike you can’t replay in the gym.
“The target is to try and keep on the same level all year.
“The problem is that when the inflammation arrives inside, the pain goes up and the strength goes down. We need to keep it constant.”