Marc Márquez made an emotional return to the top step of the MotoGP podium in Germany last weekend when he held off Miguel Oliveira to win around the Sachsenring track for the 11th straight time in his career.
The six-time MotoGP world champion had initially struggled this season to challenge for victory after a bad arm injury ruled him out of the 2020 season, however he drew on his love for the German GP track to raise his game and provide more hope in his continued rehabilitation.
The Repsol Honda rider now moves on to Assen this weekend where he will be hoping to secure another Dutch career podium before the summer break and August return, when the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will host back-to-back races with the Styrian GP and Austrian GP.
Here is what the 28-year-old had to say after yet another Sachsenring victory that provided a huge confidence boost following a difficult year:
Did you draw inspiration in your long injury comeback from top athletes in other sports?
The rehabilitation process was really long and I am still struggling a lot with my right arm. Of course, I try to find motivations and some reference. One of the guys I spoke to and understand his situation is Mick Doohan because of his big injury in 1992 and when he came back in 1993. He struggled a lot. Phone call with him to try and listen and understand his problems and learn about his experience. It helped me a lot. Another athlete was Rafa Nadal. One part of his career people thought he might retire because his knees were not so good. In the end he came back and won again. You take the good references and try to copy them. I have received many great messages since my victory at the Sachsenring, from legends in other sports to my best friend. It is true they are different kind of messages. The most important and nicest thing was when I crossed the line and arrived in parc fermé, I saw all my team crying and this was emotional.
How important was it to race at your beloved Sachsenring at this crucial point in the season?
Sachsenring has been a good circuit for me, a good layout. Normally on left corners I am really strong coming from the flat track and the characteristics of our bike. This year I feel from the Sachsenring to another circuit it is a bigger step because it is turning all the time on left corners and normally I feel more the arm in the right corners. There was a big step. It is true that during my career at Sachsenring I won many times and, when you arrive there, the layout suits well with your riding style and also you have extra confidence. Sachsenring is one of the most important victories in my career about the moment where we were, where we are and where we want to arrive. When you are in a difficult moment and you receive some great compensation that is a victory - it helps a lot myself, it helps a lot inside the team and it helps a lot the Honda engineers. It was a victory my body needs. Really happy and really proud.
How impressed have you been with the strides Red Bull KTM have made during the last year?
When you are one year out from the best motorbike competition, you feel like all the other manufacturers and riders keep improving, they are even faster - every year the level increases. They are faster and I am slower, so it makes the situation more difficult. Step by step we need to work. Every race track is different. In Sachsenring I suffered a lot and, in future races, I may struggle again. My target in 2021 is a transition year. Try to find again the feeling and try to do the stupid mistakes this year, and 2022 will be time to keep a higher level.
Has the injury and pandemic changed your way of thinking about life and riding in general?
The hardest injury of my career was together with a tough year in the world in 2020 with COVID-19. I learned many things - I learned that you need to enjoy life, you need to take care of many things and, if you can do something today, don't wait tomorrow. The other side of course I learned is we must take care of our bodies. If you take care of your body during life, you can do many things.
Are you looking forward to the August double-header at the Red Bull Ring?
Red Bull Ring is one of my favourite layouts, but it is true I have never won there. We will see this year. Fingers crossed that in the summertime, I will keep improving my physical condition. I have one month and a half to take a rest and also to train and try to be ready for the second half of the season. The double race in the Red Bull Ring will be interesting to understand if the body improves and if my right arm has improved or not, because there we have a very hard brake point. Looking forward to racing in Austria.