Marc Marquez admits that he is struggling to recover the form that made him a six-time MotoGP world champion after a "nightmare" three years following his brutal right arm break.
Honda rider Marquez comes into this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix at a low ebb, 19th on just 22 points in the championship standings after finishing just two races all season.
Marquez has only won five times since claiming his sixth elite-class world title in 2019. He fractured his right arm in the first GP of the following season from which he only truly started to recover after a fourth round of surgery in June last year.
"The last three seasons have been a nightmare. It has been very difficult since my injury in 2020, in particular in terms of my physical condition even if I'm much better now," Marquez said in an interview with AFP.
"But the results haven't come. Obviously, that's difficult for someone who has won a lot, sometimes it's even difficult to stay motivated. But me and the team are working together to try to get back to the top spots.
"What's tricky right now is to keep my frustration under control because I am riding well but the results aren't coming. That's when you begin to doubt yourself and start saying to yourself 'Maybe I'm not good enough'."
Marquez picked up points from the most recent GPs in Austria and Catalunya but his meagre tally in the championship standings is far below what would be expected from both Honda and a motorcycling icon.
Honda's factory team have won just three GPs in the last three seasons, all claimed by Marquez, and this season the Japanese manufacturer is at the bottom of the constructors standings and in last place in the team standings.
The 30-year-old's contract with Honda expires at the end of 2024 and there have been rumours that he could follow his brother Alex to Ducati's satellite team Gresini come next season.
And while he admits that other teams have been in contact about his future both recently and in the past he told AFP – before the Gresini rumours began circulating – that he remains committed to trying to win again with the Japanese team.
"In order to stay in MotoGP, I have to feel like I'm competitive and that means fighting for the first five or seven places in every single race," says Marquez.
"There are a lot of different manufacturers and a lot of different riders who are very fast. We are working hard with Honda to find the best solution to be competitive in 2024. In 2025, we'll see what happens."
Marquez was close to quitting the sport before his most recent operation finally resolved his arm problem but has put that idea behind him.
"I was very worried because I no longer enjoyed riding a motorbike. I felt a lot of pain in my arm. On GP weekends, I told myself that I was going to suffer a lot, that it wouldn't be a good time.
"That's why I hesitated to continue, the pain was very strong. The passion was there, but it wasn't enough. But after this operation, it got better and better.
"Let's see if we can win or not. But if we're in the top five and we're fighting for every race then we can fight for the championship."