On the face of it, it’s hard to bet against Marquez, who’s won four titles in five years on his factory Honda. But Andrea Dovizioso, who took the championship battle right down to the wire in 2017, is a definite contender on his Ducati. So too Dovizioso’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, a former three-times MotoGP world champion who will be seeking to recapture his form after a mediocre 2017 season.
Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was fourth in the standings in 2017 after nine visits to the podium, and the diminutive rider is always in the mix.
MotoGP’s most famous star, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, heads into 2018 hoping to clinch his eighth title in the premier class. The elder statesman of MotoGP won his last championship back in 2009 and will be keen to show that at 39 he can still get the job done.
Another strong contender is Rossi’s team-mate Maverick Vinales, who finished third in the 2017 standings.
But MotoGP isn’t a tale penned solely by the hands of factory teams, and of the independent teams the leading dark horse is Johann Zarco on the Tech3 Yamaha, the 2017 Rookie of the Year and the fastest man in the pre-season Qatar test.
The race will be broadcast live on Supersport at 6pm on Sunday.