Eleven rounds into the 2015 MotoGP season and we're back to square one: at least for Movistar Yamaha pairing of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
With seven rounds remaining in the championship the two riders are deadlocked on equal points, miles ahead of the rest, led by world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).
Lorenzo's runaway win in the last round at Brno swung the momentum back towards the Spaniard, but that was just another twist in an engrossing season which has ebbed and flowed between the Yamaha factory riders.
Brno wasn't the nail-biting classic we'd thought it would be, but the way that Lorenzo was able to eradicate Rossi's 9pt championship lead in one fell swoop has now paved the way for a captivating and edgy climax to the 2015 season.
So just who is going to be the new boss at Movistar Yamaha: the one who prevails and breaks the stranglehold that Marquez had held on MotoGP over the last two years? That said, how can you simply forget about the brilliant Marquez, who will probably win more races than anyone else in the last seven rounds, including Phillip Island on October 17 — a place where he is yet to taste success in the premier class.
However, the fact remains that he is 52pts behind Rossi and Lorenzo, and even with his appetite for success and the ability to get on a run he's still a rank outsider to make it three titles on the trot — but if Rossi or Lorenzo make a mistake or two…
That's entirely possible, but the thing is that Rossi and Lorenzo aren't exactly moving into unfamiliar territory. With nine world MotoGP titles between them, they are already old hands at absorbing pressure, so we're unlikely to see them lose their faculties: it will all come down to speed and racecraft.
On that score, Lorenzo's winning form in 2015 has been the more emphatic: brilliantly executed turn-the-screws victories, while Rossi's three successes haven't been as emphatic or as polished — but way more exciting, including the now famous last corner stoush with Marquez at Assen!
Lorenzo's victory at Brno — his 38th win in MotoGP, drawing level with Casey Stoner — appeared to deflate Rossi, who didn't show his normal level of exuberance on the podium despite maintaining his remarkable record of finishing on the podium in every race so far this year. However, it would be folly to suggest the extroverted Italian is beginning to wither, as when his back is against the wall he always comes out fighting — so hold onto your seats. Even wise heads like Wayne Gardner marvel at how Rossi stays motivated after all these years, let alone refusing to give an inch against young tyros like Marquez.
With the stakes so high, one mistake by either Rossi or Lorenzo could spell disaster for their championship aspirations. And with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) also capable of sneaking a podium or two, alongside Ducati pair Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, it won't be just each other and Marquez that they will have to worry about. With all that in mind, we've done some crystal balling and here's a sketch of how the results may pan out over the final seven rounds, using a combination of logic (2014 results), the ebbs and flows of 2015, and gut instinct.
If results follow the pattern, or even some minor variations, Marquez will definitely fall short of another title. We have him finishing the season on 324pts, with Lorenzo the champion on 344pts ahead of Rossi on 337pts. Close, though…
Could we be leading you down the proverbial garden path? Maybe, but It's certainly going to be fascinating to sit back and see how this epic season reaches its climax. It's game on between two heavyweights of the sport, with the irrepressible Marquez ready and waiting to be the ultimate fly in the ointment.
And it all begins at Silverstone next weekend.