Marc Marquez will be notably absent from the Qatar GP, an absence that surprises some of his rivals, who expected to see the Spaniard back on track after his long period of convalescence. Recent tests aboard the Honda RC213V-S at Barcelona and Portimão had got the paddock thinking that the eight-time world champion would be back, but doctors have recommended that he does not compete at Losail.

"We hope Marc is back soon"

"Marc won’t be in Qatar because the doctors think he needs a little more time, to be 100% sure that he returns in good shape”, Alberto Puig tells DAZN.

The Honda team manager has explained the doctors’ decision: "He had good feeling at Barcelona and Portimão, and he was fast, but the doctors deem the stresses to which his arm would be subjected during a race to be excessive. We’ve followed the doctors’ instructions, but we hope he’s back soon, doing what he does best, or rather winning races”.

After three operations in the space of a few months, #93 and his entourage prefer not to take any risks, although missing the first two races also means losing out on a lot of possible points.

"Let’s not forget how he rides. It’s not that he can’t ride, it’s that the doctor wants to be sure enough time has passed since the surgery”, continues Puig. "We’ll wait. Starting without our champion isn’t the best, but it’s not the end of the world. If everything goes well, the championship will be long this season and he’ll have time to catch up".

New recruit Pol Espargaró

Without its main rider, replaced at the opening rounds by test rider Stefan Bradl, Honda will focus on new recruit Pol Espargaró. "We have another rider who is capable of fighting for the title. We signed Pol Espargaró because we believe he has both experience and ability”, says the Team Repsol manager. "In addition, we’re sure he’ll help us to develop the bike to a high level. Of course, when we signed we believed him to be the right person this year, we trust in him 100% and hope he can be fast on our bike”, concludes Puig.

Translated by Heather Watson

MotoGP, official: Marc Marquez won't race in Qatar