Jerez de la Frontera, Spain,
World champion Marc Marquez struggled on his remarkable return Saturday four days after surgery at the Andalucia MotoGP ended when he climbed off his bike at the start of the first qualifying session.
The 27-year-old Honda star could still compete in Sunday’s race but without a qualifying time only if he started on the back row of the grid.
Marquez suffered a broken arm in a heavy crash in last Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix opener, also at Jerez. Despite surgery on Tuesday he was declared fit to race on Thursday.
He sat out Friday’s two opening sessions but returned to the track on Saturday morning for the third practice session managing only the 20th best time, 1.3sec behind Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales who had broken Fabio Quartararo’s circuit record set last weekend.
As the second practice session progressed, Marquez began to struggle to hold the line on corners, frequently slowing and swinging wide. Unusually, he rode back into the pit lane a few minutes before the end of the session.
Because he had failed to record one of the top 10 times, Marquez did not have a bye for the first qualifying session. He started but returned to the pits without posting a time, climbed off his bike and walked out of the garage.
A bad qualifying session for the Marquez family ended with younger brother Alex heading for a medical examination after crashing his bike. Takaaki Nakagami on a satellite Honda recorded the fastest time in the final practice, 1 minute 37.54sec.—AFP