Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez may have wrapped up his eighth World Championship at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, but there’s a battle raging behind the Spaniard for second and third in the overall standings.
Barring a disastrous final four rounds, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) should pick up his third consecutive MotoGP™ runners-up medal. 48 points separate the Italian from third place Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and having picked up at least two podiums in the last quartet of races in the previous three seasons, the omens look good for Dovizioso to cement P2 in the Championship.
The aforementioned Rins occupies third overall heading to the first of the fly-aways, but he faces some stiff competition to keep it. Just 24 points separate Rins, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo, with both the latter and fellow M1 rider Viñales currently on a hot run of form.
After another P3 finish in Thailand, Viñales has moved above Petrucci in the table to P4, just four points behind Rins. It was the Spaniard’s third rostrum in the last four races and, don’t forget, Viñales strode to victory last year at Phillip Island – a track he has three consecutive podiums at. Similarly, Quartararo has three podiums in his last five races, finishing less than a second from the win in two of those. The Yamaha duo are quickly hunting down P3 in the Championship.
Since winning at the British Grand Prix, Rins has notched up a DNF, P9 and P5. A steady trio of rounds for the Spaniard but having finished third at the Twin Ring Motegi last season, before following that up with two second places in Malaysia and Valencia, Rins is heading to tracks that both he and Suzuki get on well with.
The two arguably less in form riders from the quintet are Petrucci and Rossi. The Ducati man hasn’t tasted the podium bubbly since the Catalan Grand Prix and his best result since the summer break has been P7, seeing ‘Petrux’ slip from P3 to P5 in the standings. Meanwhile, ‘The Doctor’ kicked off the second half of the season with a P6 and a run of three P4s, but two consecutive P8s in Aragon and Thailand now sees the nine-time World Champion sit just two points ahead of rookie Quartararo. Rossi will be hopeful he can repeat the same form that saw him dominate the 2018 Malaysian GP, before a heart-breaking Turn 1 crash with four laps to go ended his hopes of a win.
And, if it wasn’t for Jack Miller accidentally turning off his Pramac Racing Ducati on the Thai GP start line, the Australian would be closer to the gaggle of riders too. If you count Miller in the equation – which on recent form you have every right to – then there are 48 points splitting the six riders all chasing P3 in the Championship.
Rins, Viñales, Petrucci, Rossi, Quartararo and Miller racing for third overall, with Dovizioso having to be on his toes to hold onto second. A thrilling fight awaits in Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Valencia to see how is best of the rest in 2019.