With the news that Marc Marquez will be replaced this weekend at the Czech Grand Prix by Honda test rider Stefan Bradl and rumours coming out of Catalunya that he will miss the remainder of August’s MotoGP races at the Red Bull Ring, the reigning MotoGP champion’s 2020 title campaign is all but over.
Crashing out of the opening round of the championship at Jerez and unable to start the Andalucian Grand Prix at the same track seven days later after undergoing surgery on a broken right arm, he’s already 50 points adrift of runaway championship leader Fabio Quartararo – and likely to be down by the same again by the time he’s back on the bike.
And while comebacks have been made before against bigger odds, it’s hard to see how that’s possible given the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
Had Marquez hurt himself at the opening round of the scheduled calendar, he’d have had two weeks not one to originally recover – and sitting out a further three weeks would have meant missing two races not three.
But, with the rearranged schedule designed to squeeze in as many races as possible in a short period, his injury couldn’t have come at a worse possible time. Instead of potentially only missing one or two rounds, he’s looking set to sit out nearly 40% of the year’s races.
Even worse, it’s a mess of his and Honda’s own making after his abortive attempt to race only days after major surgery following the opening round.
Obviously, it’s impossible to diagnose why exactly he needed to have the titanium plate installed in his arm to fix the broken humerus replaced only two weeks after having it fitted.
But, given the social media photos and videos Marquez has been posting of physiotherapy exercises involving lifting light weights, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that the forces involved in riding a 300bhp motorbike had more to do with it than the easy exercise he’s been completing since then.
Could he have ridden this weekend, had he rested instead of rushing back to action at Jerez and consequently not needed a second operation?
With two weeks to heal and conditions and a track that’s less physically demanding at Brno, it’s entirely likely that he could have successfully achieved his Andalucian GP goal of damage limitation in the Czech Republic.
That in turn would have set him up for more of the same at the two Red Bull Ring rounds – tracks where he was never the favourite anyway given Ducati’s dominance.
It would still have taken a herculean effort to win the championship after starting out 50 points down on his rivals after two rounds.
But had Marquez managed to minimise the deficit at the upcoming three tracks with a trio of top 10 finishes – entirely possible given his incredible ability on a motorbike – then 2020 could have shaped up as a very different championship.