Nine races down, nine to go, a rookie heading the standings and a huge 225 points still left on offer.
That’s the situation in MotoGP as the world’s premier motorcycle racing series heads to the historic Indianapolis circuit in the United States this Sunday.
MotoGP has been visiting the iconic “Brickyard” since 2008 and this year it’s rookie Marc Marquez on a works Honda who arrives there leading the standings ahead of his team mate Dani Pedrosa and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo on a factory Yamaha.
Thanks to a month-long break following the Laguna Seca round on 21 July, Pedrosa and Lorenzo should be back to improved fighting fitness after picking up recent injuries.
Laguna Seca was a weekend of damage contorl each suffered with a left collarbone injury and they finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Valentino Rossi’s legions of fans will be hoping the multiple champion will continue his recent resurgence.
The nine-times title winner struggled following his rostrum finish in the season-opening Qatar round, but has made up ground since then and has ridden his works Yamaha to top-three results in the past three races.
Rossi has overtaken Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow for fourth in the standings and - with only 47 points covering the top five - the title chase is still wide open.
Indy will also welcome back satellite Ducati rider Ben Spies, the former World Superbike champion, who has missed the past seven MotoGP races due to a lingering shoulder injury.
Away from the race track, Crutchlow has signed a two-year contract with Ducati to replace 2006 champion Nicky Hayden from next year, to reunite with former team mate Andrea Dovizioso.
Crutchlow’s place alongside Bradley Smith on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 will be filled by Pol Espargaro.
The Indianapolis MotoGP will be broadcast live on DStv SuperSport at 7.45pm South African time. - Star Motoring
MotoGP World Championship Standings
1Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda – 163 points
2 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda – 147
3 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha – 137
4 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha – 117
5 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha – 116