Marc Marquez says he is worse than expected on his return to MotoGP action following his second shoulder surgery in the space of a year and feels he wouldn’t be able to complete a race distance in his current physical state.

The reigning MotoGP world champion opted for right shoulder surgery immediately after the 2019 post-season tests, undergoing the operation on November 27, and has completed 250 hours of rehabilitation according to his physiotherapist.

On his first day back on a MotoGP bike Marquez stuck to his plan of limited running to complete 37 laps in total, with a best lap which put him 12th overall and 0.731s off pace-setter Fabio Quartararo.

It has been the second consecutive winter Marquez has spent recovering from serious shoulder work having completed a similar programme last year on his left shoulder.

Explaining the differences between his two recoveries, the Repsol Honda rider says this year’s rehabilitation has been “less pain but less power” from his right shoulder due to work on his nerves but says his muscles are in a better shape than last year.

“Completely different. Compared to last year I had more pain but more power,” Marquez explained. “This year I have less pain but less power. I expected this already before coming here because one of the muscles that is more important in the shoulder is still not in perfect condition and I already expected this before riding the bike.

“When I rode the bike in the first run I felt worse than I expected. Especially the position on the bike – it was difficult to touch or use the elbow in the corner. Then step by step I started using it. I started the first run with good energy. But immediately when I stopped in the box – I went to 1m 59s but when I stopped I felt like I needed to slow down, to be step by step, be patient.

“Today the plan was to be in this range of 30-35 laps. Tomorrow we will try for 45. Then the next day we will see.

“I feel better than last year. The problem is that muscle takes time to activate. Just two weeks ago it was impossible to ride a bike. Then it started to activate a bit and that’s the reason I’m here today.

“It’s kind of a nerve that is not working in the correct way. It’s coming better and better. Then the muscle will come better and immediately I will feel better. All the muscles – biceps, triceps – are in a good way.”

Marquez has been forced into an intensive rehabilitation programme to be fit for the start of the 2020 MotoGP season, with the operation he underwent typically requiring a minimum of four months recovery. Marquez is aiming to be fully fit just three months on from his surgery with the Qatar season opener on March 6-8.

“Yesterday my physio said to me 10 weeks, 92 sessions, 250 hours. It’s not a joke. Not a lie,” Marquez explained. “It was from December 2, double sessions per day.

“I cancelled my holidays and everything to be ready for the first race in Qatar. This is the target. Normal surgery from four to six months – you can ask Oliveira and Nakagami, who had surgery one month earlier than me – this is the target. But if you want to be ready you must keep focussed.”

The 26-year-old has also been dealing with the largely unspoken mental conflict when recovering from an injury, especially after having to take on the same situation for two consecutive winters.

“It’s hard, especially because when we take the decision to take the surgery,” Marquez said. “The first question of Alberto [Puig, Repsol Honda team manager] to me was ‘Are you ready?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘No, are you ready on the mental side?

“Because two winters doing four hours every day from the morning to the night is hard.’ But in the end it’s our job.

“It’s not only winning; you must know that kind of situation can happen. My riding style is to try and take the risk, but to take the risk and win races has some damage on the other side.”

Both Miguel Oliveira and Takaaki Nakagami are also returning from similar shoulder surgeries this year.

Oliveira made his initial comeback at the Sepang shakedown, permitted under MotoGP Concession rules as a KTM rider, with LCR Honda’s Nakagami back in action today. Oliveira completed 49 laps on day one of the Sepang test with Nakagami limited to 31 laps.