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Marc Márquez faces his toughest task

Marc Marquez, who over the years has built a reputation as one of the best riders in MotoGP history, has been living a nightmare for almost two years from which he still doesn’t know when he will wake up.

The worst omens were confirmed on Tuesday morning when Honda issued a statement announcing that their figurehead, the man who has clinched the Japanese marque’s last six titles, is suspended until further notice.

The bad fall he suffered on Sunday at the Mandalika circuit during the warm-up for the Indonesian Grand Prix has meant that the diplopia (double vision) problems have returned. That’s why in 2021 he already had the last two world championship races he had to skip.

At that time, an accident in motocross caused a nerve injury that he had originally suffered in 2011 – in his first year in Moto2 – to break out again. This time the whole world witnessed the wild crash that saw his Honda catapult him high into the air as he cruised through Turn 7 at over 110 mph.

Marquez, who has not missed a single one of the 127 races since his debut in the MotoGP class in 2013, has only been able to contest 14 of the last 34. The statistic is remarkable considering that those 20 failures came from three falls.

The worst part isn’t that he’s not driving, and that’s in a championship that needs a reference like him following the departure of Valentino Rossi. The problem is that the driver from Cervera could suffer irreparable damage in one of these wild accidents. And not just for racing.

He said so himself recently when he admitted that the hardest thing about last winter wasn’t the fact that he couldn’t get on the bike. “The sporting part took a back seat. The worst thing was that I couldn’t lead a normal life. I couldn’t even walk or ride a bike,” said the Spaniard.

After the nine months that forced him to rest from racing after breaking his right upper arm at the Jerez Grand Prix in July 2020, the Spaniard made a phrase his own that he repeated every time he was in front of a Microphone entered: “There are many races, but there is only one body.”

But he is and remains hot-blooded. It’s the same blood that made him the athletic start he is and the same blood that’s making life so difficult for him now. On Saturday, during qualifying at Mandalika, he crashed twice in less than seven minutes, in two actions with almost identical dynamics.

Afterwards he said: “I could have avoided the second fall, but inside I was on fire.” That’s a completely opposite statement to the previous one and one that explains the DNA of the character that betrayed him again on Sunday.

The most used expression at Honda in Indonesia was “This is not our weekend.” Pol Espargaro, Marquez’s teammate at the Repsol Honda garage, had left pre-season testing at the same venue with the fastest time.

Both he and his pit neighbor were among the drivers who showed the highest speed and best pace over the three days of testing. However, Michelin’s decision to switch to an older rear wheel construction (2018) with a stiffer carcass for the Grand Prix changed everything.

The new 2022 Honda, specially designed for the new generation tires, became unstable and the drivers started to suffer. Espargaro was among the biggest critics of Michelin’s decision, which he felt was completely unfair. Marquez complained less but fell more often: four times in five practice sessions.

The multiple champion can still think so much. When he’s on the bike, he can’t change his attitude, which drives him to take risks – often too many.

If we assume he will be racing again as soon as possible, Marquez faces the most difficult task he has ever faced in his life. He must fight against his own nature. That which gave him everything, but which, as it turns out, can also take everything away from him.

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