Nine months since he suffered the broken arm that would exclude him from the 2020 season, six-time MotoGP World Champion Marquez returned this weekend in Portimao.
After qualifying sixth, Marquez ran to third on the first lap before eventually being pushed back to ninth as he tried to get back into a rhythm.
With several falls ahead of him, Marquez crossed the finish line 13 seconds behind race winner Fabio Quartararo and finished his comeback ride in seventh place.
Marquez described his race at Portimao as “the biggest step in my recovery” and couldn’t hold back his emotions when he returned to his team after the Grand Prix.
“Of course emotions is the right word,” he said when asked by Autosport whether he would have thought it possible today.
“I’m a person who likes to keep the emotions inside, but when I got into the box with all of my mechanics I exploded and I couldn’t control the emotions.
“It’s been a very long time since I dreamed of finishing a MotoGP race today and it’s the biggest step in my rehabilitation, recovery and coming back [being] a MotoGP rider was my dream and I did that today.
“When I got to the box, of course, I was put on trial and I was exhausted.
“But it was the explosion of emotions that I couldn’t control, but it was very nice.”
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, MotoGP Portugal GP 2021
Photo by: Repsol Honda Team
Marquez says the opening laps were tough because it was “not my place” and admits he was simply “riding the bike” for the last six laps when his arm lost energy.
“Perhaps the hardest part was the first few laps because I wasn’t in my place,” he added.
“You know, if you play soccer with the elders at school, they’ll overtake you wherever you want.
“So on the first few laps I didn’t feel in my place, I didn’t have the pace, I had no control over the bike and then everyone started to overtake me.
“But then I was calm, didn’t fight and just found my place and as soon as I found my place, I started to increase my rhythm step by step and at the end of the lap I was able to set my personal best race.
“In the end I felt better and tried to catch [Aleix] Espargaro again, but then my body suddenly said ‘this is where it starts’.
“For the last six laps I just sat on the bike and tried to finish the race. But the most important thing is to finish the race.
“And if we then check to finish the race just 13 seconds behind Quartararo, that is something unbelievable.”
Marquez also received virtual standing ovations from the media gathered on Zoom for his debriefing.