— Marc Márquez (@marcmarquez93) March 16, 2021
Marc Marquez took a major step closer to a return on Tuesday. The Spaniard rode a full-sized production bike - a Honda RC213V-S street bike - at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo. It was the first time he had ridden a big bike since pulling out of the Andalusian round at Jerez during his precipitate return after his first crash.
— Repsol Honda Team (@HRC_MotoGP) March 16, 2021
Marquez rode a track-prepared version of Honda's RC213V-S, the exclusive and limited edition race replica based on the RCV1000R CRT machine raced by the likes of Nicky Hayden and Jack Miller. One of the perks of being a multiple world champion for Honda is that they give you motorcycles to train on, and Marquez trains on the RC213V-S when he rides on a track. The bike was in full Repsol Honda colors - another perk of being a multiple world champion is your win bonuses will easily stretch to a special paint job.
In a tweet, shown above, Marquez said he had not enjoyed himself so much for a very long time. The Spaniard appears to have put in a lot of laps at Barcelona, accompanied and assisted by his crew chief Santi Hernandez and other members of his crew. The MotoGP.com website has a longer version of the Twitter video clip on its website.
That would suggest a return for the six-time MotoGP champion is nearer than ever. Marquez has already flown to Qatar to receive the Covid-19 vaccine offered to the MotoGP paddock by the Qatari government, and is due to fly back to receive the second jab. The chances of Marquez at least trying to ride at one of the Qatar rounds appear to be very high, given how comfortable he appeared on the road bike. Whether a week is sufficient time to prepare for the rigors of riding a MotoGP bike remains to be seen, but the smart money is on the Repsol Honda rider participating in the second Qatar round at least.
How strong Marquez will be on his return is the big question. There is little reason to doubt his desire to race, the question is whether he is able to erase the doubts and fears from his mind. Knowing the character of Marc Marquez, that is unlikely to take very long.