Can Marquez hold off the Ducatis at Mugello this weekend?
Mugello, Italy - Reigning world champion Marc Marquez will be up against the Ducati riders looking to make the most of their home advantage and stop the Spaniard achieving a fourth win this season in the sixth round of the world championship series at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Five-time MotoGP champion Marquez won the French MotoGP at Le Mans last time out, racking up Japanese manufacturer Honda's 300th victory in the division.
It was Marquez's 47th top level Grand Prix win and third of the season, finishing ahead of Italian pair Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci of Ducati.
"To have three Ducati in the first four places was very positive even if we want more," said Dovizioso, runner-up in the world championship behind Marquez in 2017 and 2018.
Dovizioso won the season-opener in Qatar ahead of Marquez, but the Spaniard has since won in Argentina, Spain and France.
The 26-year-old leads his Italian rival by eight points with 14 races still to go this season.
"I like the circuit, even if we have not always had the best results there," said Marquez, who has won the MotoGP category just once on the circuit north of Florence, in 2014.
"After Le Mans I'm first of all hoping for good weather in Mugello."
His wishes should be granted and after the drizzle and the cold of Le Mans, the forecast is for sunny conditions this weekend in Tuscany.
The Spaniard's teammate Jorge Lorenzo has won six times in Mugello since 2011, last year with Ducati, and wants to redeem a miserable start to the season.
"We made good progress at Le Mans and I was much closer to the first," said Lorenzo, whose best finish this season was his 11th in the French race.
Rossi at home
Home hero Valentino Rossi is fourth overall - 23 points behind Marquez - and needs a good result on Sunday to keep in the chase.
"Mugello offers fewer low speed acceleration situations so we should be better than at Le Mans," said Rossi, fifth in France.
Rossi has not won at Mugello since 2008 after an impressive series of seven consecutive victories.
His team-mate Maverick Vinales is also looking to get out of the water, tenth in the championship, he has never won at Mugello, but finished second in 2017.
"We made good progress in Le Mans with the setting of the bike and were able to be much closer to the front," he said.
"I've had similar success in the past in Mugello as to Le Mans, so I am hopefully of continuing to improve our position."
Another underdog, Suzuki rider Alex Rins, remains third in the championship 20 points adrift of the leader. The Spaniard will want to avoid the "small mistakes" that saw him slump to 10th place in Le Mans.
Ducati's Jack Miller, is sixth after a fourth place finish by the Australian at Le Mans.
In Moto2, Italian Lorenzo Baldassari has alternated between three wins and two crashes in five races, with Swiss Thomas Lüthi now just seven points behind.
Álex Márquez, brother of Marc, is fourth overall after winning in Le Mans.