Reigning world champion Marc Marquez's training crash, resulting in a spiral fracture of his right leg, could be nothing but a hiccup, and at the same time, it could be something,.
First, a spiral leg fracture--even if it's not displaced--is a fairly serious injury for a rider. Broken tibia/fibula injuries had very major consequences for Australian racers Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan, with Doohan nearly losing his leg when the Dutch surgeons botched the repair. Moreover, Valentino Rossi broke his leg in much the same way in 2010 and first reports had it that Rossi's injury--his was displaced--would keep him out of racing for the remainder of the 2010 season.
Marquez will miss two important pre-season tests at Sepang and Phillip Island.
History shows that sometimes it's the small niggling injuries that drag a rider down. Marquez's predecessor in the history books--Freddie Spencer--was absolutely on top of the world, best of the best and a favorite to win any race he entered. Right up until the time that he wasn't. Spencer dominated Grand Prix until he came down with symptoms of carpel tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis. Spencer's initial injury seemed to be one that would cost him a few races while he had it repaired and it was unthinkable that he would never win a race again, but Spencer was dragged under by his bad wrist and eventually retired and re-retired several times because of injuries. Several years after the epic "clash of the titans" title fight between Kenny Roberts and Spencer, Roberts said simply that comparisons between the Freddie Spencer of 1983-1985 and the one who raced a Yamaha in 1989 were not relevant. Spencer wasn't anything like the same rider he was at his dominant best. Valentino Rossi splayed his shoulder out in a dirt bike crash in 2010 and the severity and effect that injury had on the Italian's career is a matter of some speculation. This, too, was an injury that when first reported was of limited consequence.
"Best are the blessed and blessed are the best" sums up Marquez's career thus far. In his rookie MotoGP season Marquez showed unequivocally that he has all the gifts a rider needs: confidence, skill, talent, bravery and even the less tangible gift of luck. He crashed at speeds and in places that other riders seemingly never would have walked away and the timing of his crashes was always very good. Nothing could stop Marquez, even his team's own bad math at the Phillip Island debacle.
Up to this point it seems clear that Marquez has the gift of nearly a half-second margin at any track he turns a wheel on, at some tracks it's less, and at some it's more. He's in a magic period of his career when he can do no wrong and even when he does encounter bad luck, it's almost regarded as good luck. How many veteran riders would like to skip the second Sepang test and get some rest instead? A few more than would admit it publicly.
Marquez's half second cushion has made life difficult for riders who were previously regarded as "aliens", riders so fast they weren't really human. Marquez on a MotoGP bike has showed them to be all too human.
For Lorenzo, Rossi, Pedrosa and the rest, they have to be hoping that Marquez's simple leg fracture is an injury that allows that half-second he pulls out at will to escape from his grasp. Marquez without that half-second is something they can claw at, get their front wheel inside his footpeg.
Yet, it's truly representative of his stout ability that even with a broken leg and having to miss two tests that insiders are still predicting that Marquez will win the opening round of the MotoGP championship at Qatar in late March