Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) took the points lead in Austria, but it’s by just three – so will that prove a magic number as we head for Misano? It may well do, with that leaving the Championship lead open to attack from key title rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who can take over if he wins. But the stakes will be high for Bagnaia to increase the advantage, with the paddock now headed onto his home turf for the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
For Oliveira, meanwhile, there are a few wounds to lick following Silverstone. The qualifying struggles that earlier plagued the Portuguese rider looked to be behind him but in the UK they were back and he had been set to line up outside the top twenty. Although there was no racing on Sunday, that’s something to think about – although, again, on the other side of the coin, the conditions had been difficult.
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) is another man to watch, racing, like teammate Bagnaia, on home turf and retaining his roll. Alongside MotoGP™ points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), he’s one of only two riders across all classes to have taken a podium in the last three races. He’s been all-in even without the added motivation of racing at home. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) could also be a threat as he continues his search for his first win of the year, and Sachsenring winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Catalunya winner Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing) and Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) can’t be counted out.
That said, there are more home heroes who will do anything to get in their way. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) will have their sights set on nothing short of glory, and for Baldassarri it’s the scene of one of his most impressive races when he dueled Alex Rins – and took his maiden win – in 2016. History won’t repeat itself exactly, but the Italian knows he can because he did, so he’ll likely prove a force to be reckoned with.
Find out if he is on Sunday 9th September from 12:20 local (GMT +2) when the intermediate class go racing.