The 2014 MotoGP season has been thrown open after starlet and reigning world champion Marc Marquez broke his right leg in a training accident.
According to Scott Mitchell of Autosport.com, the 2013 debutant will miss the upcoming second test at Sepang, and the test at Phillip Island the following week is also in doubt:
It's a disappointing spin on Marquez's preparation for what will be just his second campaign in MotoGP, while Honda will undoubtedly be frustrated with its rider's injury.
With that being said, Mitchell does go on to add that the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix is still a realistic comeback date for the youngster.
Dr. Xavier Mir, of Barcelona's Universitario Quiron Dexeus hospital, operated on Marquez's leg and said, per Mitchell, "The results showed no ligament damage or dislocation and no need to proceed with surgery. I expect he will need three to four weeks to fully recover."
Will Marquez retain his Moto GP title in 2014?
Mitchell also quotes Marquez as saying, "It was a really unfortunate accident that could happen to anyone at any time. I was rushed to hospital and Dr. Mir treated me, thankfully there was no ligament damage and it seems like a clean break."
It's a remarkable recovery estimation given that one might think a clean break to be the sort of injury that rules out a rider for months at the least, but Marquez can be hopeful about salvaging his title defence.
As David Cushnan of SportsPro attests, it's far from the ideal way to head into what was promising to be another productive year:
#MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez has broken his leg in a training accident - out for 3/4 weeks. Not a good way to begin a title defence.— David Cushnan (@DavidCushnan) February 20, 2014
Last year, the 21-year-old took the MotoGP world by storm, beating Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo to the No. 1 finish by just three points in the driver standings.
The distance between the two progressively lessened as Marquez's form tailed off toward the end of the term while Lorenzo's improved, but 16 podium finishes from a possible 18, including six victories, laid the path to glory.
Eyes will now also turn to Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, who will be expected to shoulder a great deal of responsibility in bringing the manufacturer more success should Marquez be unable to start the season in Qatar.