Six-time world champion Marc Marquez returns to action after a nine-month injury absence at the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend wanting to “feel like a MotoGP rider again”.
The 28-year-old Spaniard hasn’t raced since breaking his right arm in last season’s championship opener at Jerez.
Three surgeries later the Honda star, having missed two rounds already this season, is keen to keep expectations at a minimum.
“We come without a goal, the goal is to ride a motorcycle again and take the most important step in the rehabilitation,” Marquez told a press conference on Thursday.
“That has to be to feel like a MotoGP rider again.”
Marquez teed up his return to action earlier in the week but still needed to be cleared by the sport’s medical chiefs at the Portimao circuit before getting the green light to take part in Friday’s opening practice sessions.
“You know that from the media there is great expectation, but you have to know how to isolate yourself and not feel more pressure than there should be,” said Marquez.
“There will be time to have pressure again, now it is simply to go out, feel it, take little steps in this part of the season which is my pre-season.”
In his absence, Joan Mir of Suzuki claimed a surprise 2020 world title.
So far this season, Honda have continued to struggle with Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo winning the opening back-to-back rounds in Qatar.
Pol Espargaro and Stefan Brandl, who has stepped in for Marquez, were eighth and 11th and then 13th and 14th respectively for the Honda factory team in the Gulf.
“I am nervous,” admitted Marquez. “I have butterflies in my stomach.”
“But at the moment I’m not worried or obsessing. It is not my fight, because there are other objectives.
“If they are met quickly, then we will think about the big objective that is the title. I want to reach my highest level, but it takes time.”
Marquez insists that his rivals on the grid will not be intimidated by the return of the six-time champion.
“I’m not thinking about my rivals, but if I put myself in their situation, then if you have the necessary confidence you don’t have to be nervous.
“I have won a lot in the past but I come from a difficult situation, it’s been a long time without racing.”
Despite three surgeries on his damaged right arm, Marquez said he is ready to face the consequences and pain when he next comes off the bike at high speed.
“The first fall will come, but one of the things I told the doctor is that when I go back on a motorcycle, my arm has to be ready for a fall.
“Then it will be important that I get up and to get back on the bike.
“But what worries me more is not the first crash but riding as I want, and to see how long it takes and how different my riding is now.”