by H. Mayor – photo: motogp.com | San Marino takes stock this weekend of the new order of the MotoGP World Championship. The petite transalpine state and its beloved Misano circuit will stage Dovizioso’s and Marquez’s re-encounter on the tarmac after the turnaround suffered in Britain, which granted the lead to the Italian driver with the unexpected breakdown of the Repsol Honda pilot.
“We are turning the page” Marc Marquez said after his engine broke down in Silverstone, an unexpected script change which turns up the heat of the Championship at just six races from the end. After his withdrawal from the British circuit, Dovizioso’s victory and Viñales’ second place, there are now just 13 points between them in their fight for the World Champion title. Rossi and Pedrosa are lagging too far behind to pose a threat any more. The Italian idol has virtually thrown away his chances after his training injury, much to the grief of his fans in San Marino. Yamaha has also said that he will not be replaced, leaving Viñales to run in his own.
The beginning of season forecasts have been ripped apart and Andrea Dovizioso, who entered the Championship quietly and unassumingly, is now the leader of the competition. The Italian will fight his next challenge this coming weekend: he has never obtained any good results in San Marino, with a fourth position being his best performance there. It is neither a historically favourable circuit for Ducati with just one victory (Stoner 2007) and one podium (Rossi 2012) in total.
With his rivals so close behind, Dovizioso must break free from that adverse tradition despite the narrow and winding circuit so at odds with his style and that of his scuderia. Five big races await on the horizon as we approach an end of season which is guaranteed to be, as predicted, not for the faint-hearted.