Marc Marquez couldn't hold back his emotions after finally achieving his 'dream' of returning to MotoGP race action at Portimao on Sunday.

Under normal circumstances Marquez's seventh place would have been a 'what-went-wrong?' result.

But after nine months and three operations to try and repair an infected broken right arm it was a dream come true just to reach the MotoGP finish line, for the first time since November 2019, leaving the Repsol Honda rider ecstatic and exhausted.

"I’m a person that likes to keep emotions inside, but when I arrived in the box with all my mechanics I couldn’t control the emotions," said the eight-time world champion.

"It’s been a very long time since I dreamt of today, to finish a MotoGP race. It’s the biggest step in my rehabilitation, my recovery. To again feel what it's like to be a MotoGP rider was my dream and it’s what I did today.

"So when I arrived in the box, of course I was tired and exhausted, but it was an explosion of emotions that I couldn’t control, but it was very nice!"

A strong start saw Marquez rise from sixth to third, but after so long away from the race track the Spaniard admitted he felt out of his depth during the intense early lap battles.

"The hardest thing was the first laps because I was not in my place. Like in school when you play football with the older guys!" he joked.

A notable exchange was between Marquez and reigning world champion Joan Mir, the rider he had deliberately followed throughout Qualifying 1. The Suzuki rider put a firm pass on Marquez on the opening lap, and the #93 later clipped the back of Mir's bike at Turn 1.

Usually the master of such chaos, Marquez was instead down in ninth place by lap 3 of 25, after which he began to regroup,

"In the first laps I didn’t feel in my place," Marquez confessed. "I didn’t have the pace, I didn’t have the control of the bike. Then Mir and everyone started to overtake me.

"It was very also difficult after a long time to understand the place to brake behind the others, to understand the way to play when they overtook me, to move out of the line. This was very hard because as soon as I went into the corners, I was not able to do other lines.

"After the first 6 laps I thought, 'OK, it’s time to breathe'. If I don’t, I will not finish the race. Then I just cooled down, I didn’t enter into this kind of fight and I found my place.

"Then I started my race, I increased my rhythm step-by-step and I was able to do my personal best lap near the end of the race."

Marquez remained in ninth, between the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro and younger bother Alex (LCR Honda) for most of the race before retirements ahead moved him up two positions.

"I was trying to catch Espargaro again, but suddenly my body said [enough]. For the last five or six laps I was just sitting on the bike, trying to finish the race. That was the most important thing, so to finish only 13s behind [race winner] Quartararo is incredible."

The next best Honda of Alex Marquez crossed the line 4.7s behind Marc, with the other LCR machine of Takaaki Nakagami in tenth place. Marc's Repsol team-mate Pol Espargaro retired early on with a rear brake problem.

Marquez said he still doesn't know how long it will take him to get back to full fitness, revealing that in giving him permission race doctors warned the 28-year-old must cut back on his usual training between events.

"Honestly, I don’t know. Because it depends also about the circuit, if it’s a really physical track or not," Marquez said. "For example, the last 7 laps today I was not even able to touch the elbow. I was just riding in a really strange riding style. I was not able to do anything.

"Another important point is that we already speak with doctors before this race. The comeback to the competition means that the training at home must be less. That means now from race-to-race I will not ride any bike. I will just train at the gym 3 or 4 days without a lot of weight.

"Because the bone is ok, but the stress we can put on the bone must be progressive. It cannot be every day and every week. This is another reason why it will take more time to come back in a good physical condition.

"But I must follow the advice of the doctors because they give to me the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike again.

"Now I will just ride the bike race-by-race. Then in the next medical check we will see how the bone is and if I can do a little bit more [training]. But the next check will be after Jerez."

Jerez, the track where Marquez broken his right arm last July, will host the Spaniard Grand Prix at the end of this month.

He will start the event 52-points behind Quartararo, with a planned 16 rounds to go.

 

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