Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) heads Down Under for the Pramac Generac Australian Grand Prix in a position he’s not been in since 2014: with Championship point. That said, the Spaniard’s advantage isn’t quite enough to make it a done deal, so it’s still very much everything to play for for those on the chase. And on the chase, there are quite some names.
Marquez’ smallest advantage is currently the 36 points he has over Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), who was back on the podium at Motegi for the first time since Catalunya. That said, the Swiss rider has been a consistent scorer and finisher where others have faltered – and it’s paid off. Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) may have more wins, but the Spaniard has also missed out on a couple more occasions.
Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up), meanwhile, is another who’s in his position – fourth overall – by virtue of consistency. But the Spaniard has had a couple of more difficult rounds of late and that could be playing on his mind on the road to Phillip Island. He’s also yet to win a race, although his podium record has been impressive. He’s 48 points behind, however, so Marquez need only outscore him by a couple to take his threat off the table.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), in fifth, was the man who really missed out at Motegi. The South African went into it 44 points adrift and a run off followed by some contact as he got the bike back under control left him fighting back from outside the top 20. He managed to do so, but he’s now 50 points down and HAS to take the fight to Marquez. Outscoring the Spaniard and outscoring him big is the only thing that's going to keep his hopes of the crown rolling on to Malaysia.
Finally, Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) is the sixth man still mathematically in with a shout – and he’s the man in form. The Italian has now taken back-to-back wins for the first time in his career, but he, like Binder, needs to overhaul Marquez by quite some margin. He could be a complicating factor for the Spaniard however, given his searing pace in both Thailand and Japan, and he races with much less pressure...
There are so many combinations for the six men left in the fight that it’s almost impossible to predict how the Championship could ultimately be won this weekend. But the one constant is the maths: to make it a definite, Marquez needs to leave Phillip Island with more than 50 points in his pocket over each of his rivals. Can he do that Down Under? Or is the buffer enough to see him content to keep reeling in the points and let the title fight roll on the Malaysia? Find out at the slightly later local time of 13:20 (GMT +11) on Sunday.