Marc Marquez overtook Miguel Oliveira in the closing stages at Motegi to secure fourth place, a herculean effort given it was just his second race back after missing much of the season due to his fourth (and most serious) arm surgery.

The eight-time world champion had started on pole position after an electric Saturday.

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“We are so happy,” said his chief engineer Hernandez to BT Sport. “For so long he didn’t race.

“It was difficult for his condition, especially here because there is a lot of braking.

“At Aragon we did not know about his condition.

“We said before the race that finishing in the top six would be amazing. But then he was fighting with Oliveira - he was Marc as we know, passing on the last lap!

“For a long time we haven’t seen Marc pass like that.”

Marquez remains the best-performing Honda rider of a disappointing 2022 season despite missing eight races to undergo surgery, and now return to the track at less than 100 percent fitness.

His comeback could be key to the team’s learning to improve their chances for next season, Hernandez believes.

“He is complaining the same as the other Honda riders. Going into the corner with the brakes, still we don’t have confidence. You carry too much speed and go wide.

“It seems like Marc, with his riding style, he can manage better.

“But his complaints are the same as the other riders. 

“Like always, Marc adapts to all conditions. Even in the past when he was at 100 percent physical condition, our bike was not great, but he had extra.”

Marquez’s fitness will be tested by a quick turnaround - MotoGP heads to Thailand next weekend but his target is not to win the race.

“Like Marc said, this is like training or a test,” Hernandez said. “We are thinking about getting kilometres into his body, and about the bike.

“We are not thinking about: ‘The next race we will win’.

“We will struggle in Thailand because there is a long corner where the bike needs to turn which is our weak point.

“The target is to get information, try to understand what happened this year, be ready for next year, and get more kilometres into Marc.

“It is different with a top rider. It is very important to have a rider like Marc. All manufacturers would like to have a Marc!”