A thrilling MotoGP™ season is set to continue this week at the Styrian Grand Prix, with reigning world champion Marc Marquez still unable to race.
Marquez is recovering from the surgery he received on a broken arm suffered at the season-opening race in Jerez and will miss another grand prix.
An unpredictable and entertaining opening four rounds have produced three different winners and just 31 points separate the top seven riders in the 2020 standings going into the next event.
Round five, which gets under way at 10:00pm on Sunday, is the second consecutive race at the Red Bull Ring and one which fans will hope provides more thrills and spills.
LAST TIME OUT
The last race in Spielberg was most memorable for the horror crash involving Franco Morbidelli and Johann Zarco, who incredibly avoided serious injury after they tangled, while Valentino Rossi was almost struck by one of their bikes as it flashed across the track at high speed.
That brought out the red flag on lap nine and the restarted race ultimately produced plenty of drama too with Pol Espargaro and Alex Rins both leading the race at one stage only to crash out.
The eventual winner was Andrea Dovizioso, who triumphed just after confirming he would be leaving Ducati at the end of the season. Joan Mir and Jack Miller completed the podium, with standings leader Fabio Quartararo finishing down in eighth and pole-sitter Maverick Vinales just 10th.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SPIELBERG
Quartararo still leads the standings but after finishes of seventh and eighth to follow his opening two victories, he has a group of riders closing in fast behind him. Since his first six races as a MotoGP™ rider last year, he has not gone three consecutive events without reaching the podium.
Dovizioso is the closest of those rivals, now just 11 points adrift, and will be confident at a track where he and Ducati have traditionally thrived.
Like Yamaha, Honda are in need of a boost, with the manufacturer yet to register a podium in Marquez's absence. Takaaki Nakagami has impressed so far but Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl and the champion's brother Alex Marquez have all endured difficult starts to the campaign.
Pol Espargaro, who will partner Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda next year, has retired in his past two MotoGP™ races and is looking to avoid three early exits in a row for what would be the first time in his career, particularly with current Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate Brad Binder impressing so much.
His frightening near miss last week aside, Rossi has had an enjoyable campaign. He has three consecutive top-five finishes to his name and has beaten team-mate Vinales in each of the last two. He has not beaten the Spaniard on three straight occasions since the seventh race of the 2018 season.
TOP FIVE STATS
Ducati dominance – The Italian manufacturer have won the past five races held at the Red Bull Ring and have done so with three different riders (Andrea Ianonne: 2016; Jorge Lorenzo: 2018; Dovizioso: 2017, 2019 and 2020).
Delight for Dovi? - The Red Bull Ring could be the first circuit where Dovizioso reaches four wins in his MotoGP™ career, double that in any other circuit (two each at Losail and Sepang). He has finished on the podium in all of his previous five races here.
Vinales needs victory – TThe Spaniard has not finished on the podium in his five MotoGP™ races at the Red Bull Ring. If he does not finish in the top three in the Styrian Grand Prix, this will be the circuit where he has had the most appearances without a podium (6) in the top category.
Miller momentum – Australian Miller, who will join the Ducati factory team next season, has finished on the podium in five of his past 14 MotoGP™ races. He only recorded two podiums in his first 75 appearances.
Brad has rivals in a bind - Binder has collected 41 points in the first four races of the season, the best all-time season start of any KTM rider in the premier class.
- Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) - 67
- Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) - 56
- Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) - 48
- Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory) - 41
- Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) - 38
- Petronas Yamaha - 98
- Monster Energy Yamaha - 86
- Ducati - 76
- Red Bull KTM Factory Racing - 60
- Suzuki Ecstar - 50