MotoGP race winner Chris Vermeulen has urged defending World Champion Marc Marquez to sit out this weekend’s third round of the MotoGP season, the Czech Grand Prix in Brno.
The Honda star has undergone a second operation on his broken right arm after the titanium plate initially used to brace his humerus was found to be damaged from ‘stress accumulation’.
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“Maybe he should just wipe this weekend and see how he goes turning up to Austria next weekend but it’s Marc Marquez, he’s a multiple world champion … if they declare him fit and he wants to have a go, who’s going to stop him?” Vermeulen said.
“Last time he had surgery and was out of hospital hours later, this time he’s got to stay in for two days so are they (doctors) erring on the side of caution for something else? It’s not straightforward putting a plate in your arm and getting out with everything working.”
MotoGP surgeon Dr. Xavier Mir said the initial operation was successful but the plate was insufficient.
“An accumulation of stress in the operated area has cause the plate to suffer some damage, so today the titanium plate has been removed and replaced by a new fixation,” Dr. Mir said.
Honda have not revealed whether Marquez’s attempt at a miraculous return to racing just four days after his crash in the season opening race in Jerez was the cause of the issue or whether the damage was done in his rush to rehabilitate in time for this weekend’s race in Brno.
“The rider has not felt pain during this period. He has always followed the medical advice given and the feeling from his body,” Dr. Mir said.
Marquez shared X-rays of the broken arm – and his titanium plate – in the post below.
A recovery period won’t be determined until midweek but the timing falls poorly for the 25-year-old with back to back races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria following this weekend’s round in the Czech Republic.
The latest setback makes the Spaniard’s attempt at a fifth-straight MotoGP title appear a longshot but Vermeulen won’t write off the eight-time World Champion yet.
“Right at this stage? No it’s definitely not over,” Vermeulen said.
“It all depends on what happens to the other guys too, if Fabio Quartararo is the guy that’s winning and on the podium every week then it’s a lot harder for Marc but if there’s three or four guys that start fighting for the Championship then it makes it a lot easier for Marc to catch up.”
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Vermeulen says suggestions the world title is diminished due to Marquez’s early season absence are ‘utter crap’.
“Everyone starts the season fit, everyone starts the season on zero points,” Vermeulen said.
“It’s Marquez that’s put himself in this position, nobody else.”
“As for people saying there’s only 14 rounds, well for Mick Doohan’s first title in 1994 there were only 14 rounds, Giacomo Agostini won when there were only 10 rounds, does that mean they’re not deserving World Champions?”
“They are still the best riders in the world out there, it just happens that the world champion is injured at the moment.”
Yamaha’s Quartararo has won the opening two races of the season in Jerez – the first two wins of his MotoGP career – and even if Marquez returned this week and won the remaining 12 races this year, the Frenchman would only have to finish second in each race to win his maiden world title.
Vermeulen though has warned Yamaha’s early season dominance could be short lived with the M1 traditionally not suited to the high-speed Brno and Austria layouts.
The Aussie believes engine troubles could also come back to bite the Japanese manufacturer with riders who exceed their allocated five engines this season forced to start that race from pit lane.
“It’s early days to be wasting an engine, so it’s not a good sign for Yamaha when they’re the guys that are struggling for horsepower and really need to turn up the RPMs to give themselves a chance to catch the Honda and Ducati’s in a straight line,” Vermeulen said.
Jack Miller dropped to seventh in the standings after crashing out in the second race at Jerez but Vermeulen expects his fellow Queenslander to pick up his first podium of the season in the coming weeks.
“I know Jack well, that won’t faze him, it was a mistake, it’s done,” Vermeulen said.
“I love his comments in Jerez that he really considered himself a championship challenger … he was on the podium in Brno last year and he definitely has the speed and potential to be on the podium in these next few races.”