Marc Marquez has been spotted riding a Moto2 bike once again, for the first time since suffering a nerve injury that caused double vision at Sepang back in October 2011. The 2011 Moto2 runner up was seen today at the Alcarras circuit, where a number of British Superbike teams were testing ahead of the 2012 BSB season. Marquez' appearance was first reported by WFR Honda rider James Westmoreland on his Twitter page, and was soon followed up by a photo posted by MSS Kawasaki's Darren Jones, race engineer for Peter Hickman. The photo was quickly removed again from Jones' Twitter page, but has since popped up on a range of Italian and Spanish websites - though apparently, with scant regard to Twitpic's terms of service.
No confirmation has yet been forthcoming from Repsol or Monlau Competicion, who run the Catalunya CX Moto2 team, of whether Marquez was actually riding or not. The photo clearly shows a rider wearing Marquez' brand of leathers (Alpinestars) and his helmet brand (Shoei), and riding a 2012 Suter Moto2 machine with orange wheels, the color used by the Catalunya CX bike. The rider shown in the photo is the right height and stature for Marquez, and the schedule fits with his plans as well. Marquez and his Monlau Competicion team had originally planned to ride at Portimao later this week, but it is possible the team decided that a private test without the media scrutiny expected at Portimao would give the Spaniard a chance to test his vision without the pressure of reporters watching. The omnipresent scrutiny of social media such as Twitter and Facebook made a completely private test impossible, with camera phones and Twitter making it inevitable that a photo would emerge. Even once the Tweet containing the photo had been deleted from Jones' timeline, it had taken on a life of its own, and - rightly or wrongly - been saved, shared and published elsewhere. It is a situation all too familiar to anyone who has every posted something embarrassing or inappropriate at some point, and then tried to get it deleted at a later date.
Seeing Marquez riding again will be a massive relief to the many fans of the young Spaniard. The problems that Marquez has suffered with double vision have persisted, despite surgery to correct the issue in his right eye. At the Repsol launch last week, Marquez was still cautious about a return date, saying he was waiting to be 100% before taking to the track. But with the first race of the season just one month away, and with the entire preseason lost due to his vision problems, Marquez will be keen to get back on a Moto2 bike as quickly as possible. The Spaniard has been training in the gym and on a bicycle, as well as riding a motocross bike. But riding a motocross bike at relatively low speeds is different to riding a Moto2 bike at over 250km/h, and with the Marquez vision still causing problems when looking up - exactly the view required when adopting a racing crouch - and only a full test on the Moto2 bike will allow him to test whether his vision is good enough for him to attempt to race again.
~~~ UPDATE ~~~
The Box Repsol Twitter feed (the official Twitter feed for all of the Repsol-backed riders in MotoGP and other championships) has just confirmed that it was Marc Marquez at Alcarras, and that he will be testing on Wednesday at Albacete. According to the Repsol feed, Marquez rode some supermoto in the morning, before completing 8 laps on the Suter Moto2 machine, and achieving "a good rhythm" - racer code for a fast pace.
~~~ UPDATE 2 ~~~
The Monlau Competicion team just posted the following (Spanish) press release:
El piloto CatalunyaCaixa Repsol avanza en su recuperación y hoy ha rodado en el trazado ilerdense de Alcarrás
Marc Márquez realizará unos entrenamientos privados de pretemporada este jueves y viernes en el Circuito de Albacete. El piloto del equipo Catalunya Caixa Repsol se marcha mañana hacia Albacete con la ilusión de haber comprobado hoy sobre su Suter de Moto2 la positiva evolución de su lesión en el ojo derecho. El de Cervera tiene ya el visto bueno de los médicos después de la última revisión esta misma semana y tras los muchos kilómetros realizados sobre la moto de cross y supermotard.
Marc ha entrenado esta mañana en el circuito de Alcarrás. A primera hora ha realizado Supermotard y posteriormente ha completado una salida de 8 vueltas con la Moto2 para verificar si está preparado para hacer un test real, en el cual el objetivo será valorar su estado de recuperación.
The CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider is making progress in his recovery, and rode today at the Alcarras track near Lerida
Marc Marquez will take part in private preseason testing this Thursday and Friday at the Albacete circuit. The CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider heads to Albacete after a hope-giving test of his Suter Moto2 machine, proving that the injury in his right eye is recovering extremely well. After a final examination, The rider from Cervera, Catalunya, received the go-ahead from his doctors this week, after spending much time on motocross and supermoto bikes.
Marc tested this morning at the Alcarras circuit. In the morning, he rode his supermoto bike, and aftewards, he completed a run of 8 consecutive laps on the Moto2 bike, to check whether he was fit enough to complete a full-scale test, in which he will be able to test the full extent of his recovery.