But he rode a pain-free race for the first time since his 2020 arm fracture, allowing the Repsol Honda star to go on the attack in the closing laps.

Overtaking Miguel Oliveira for fourth place also meant Marquez matched his best result of the season, in what was his first full race since undergoing bone realignment surgery in June.

“I'm really happy because it was a solid race, but the most important thing is that I didn't feel pain during the whole race,” Marquez said.

“I felt like the arm was lazy. I felt tired in the end, but I didn't feel pain and for me that is the most important.

“For that reason I was also able to attack Oliveira. It was long time ago since I had the feeling to attack somebody in the last laps, because [always] the pain was there and it was difficult to even keep concentration in the past.

“But today I didn't feel pain, I just felt tired, but everything was under control.”

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The #93 added: “For a single lap time attack, I'm not far from riding like I want [with the arm]. But to make a constant pace and control the moments you don't expect - shaking on the brakes, or change of directions - still there I can improve.

“But it's only the second race [since the latest operation].”

A switch from the hard to soft rear tyre on the grid suggested Marquez would make a strong early push.

However, a mapping issue dropped the eight time world champion to fifth on lap 1, where he remained until passing Oliveira.

“The only unlucky point in the race was I put the soft rear tyre to attack in the beginning, but I had a small problem in the first lap, lost a lot of time and many riders overtook me,” Marquez confirmed.

“Then the lucky thing is that I changed the map and that problem disappeared. It was a very small problem, but when you are in a big group it affects things a lot. But from that point my race began and I'm happy.”

Marquez: ‘Normal weekend will be 7th-9th’

Despite the boost in confidence from his pain-free right arm, Marquez knows the character of the Motegi circuit plus weather interrupted practice helped mask the technical deficiencies of the RCV.

“This is two [different] things: Arm level, bike level,” said Marquez, who was 7.7s behind race winner Jack Miller and set the seventh fastest lap of the race. “The arm situation we know with more kilometres will be better and the bike we need to improve.

“It's true that it was a good weekend. But it’s also true that the rain on Saturday helped me a lot to keep fresh [save energy] and to start from pole position.

“We need to also keep calm because this circuit affected the weak points of our bike less.

“For that reason I was able to be fast from FP1, even though I rode with exactly the same bike, more or less, as Aragon, but here we were closer to the others.

“So I'm always honest and in a normal weekend, I believe that will be 7th-8th-9th position. Not 4th.”

Marquez was given a warning of the work still to be done when he crashed in warm-up.

“It's one of the points where I'm struggling more this year. Always when I had those [front] moments, lockings in the past and I got used to ride the Honda like this. But this morning, I was not overriding and just looks like [you go down].

“In Aragon I had a similar crash in the same point, same angle. So it’s there where I don't have information..

“I had a good feeling in that left corner and when you have good feeling you push more. So lucky I crashed in the warm-up because if not it was a high possibility to crash [there[ in the race!”

Team-mate Pol Espargaro was the next best Honda rider, in twelfth.