With a prime opportunity to make it four consecutive MotoGP wins, something that has not been achieved since Marc Marquez did so towards the end of 2019, Francesco Bagnaia will start this weekend’s Misano MotoGP as the clear favourite.
But as was the case last season during the second MotoGP race at Misano, Bagnaia’s similar run of form came undone when he crashed out from the lead.
Beginning to pull clear of Marquez with just a few laps to go, Bagnaia then crashed at the penultimate corner after suffering a front-end washout.
While the mistake put an end to his hopes of fighting Fabio Quartararo for the championship, Bagnaia is already in a much better position to do so this time around.
With the momentum clearly on his side and Bagnaia in the form of his life, betting against the Italian at his home round is a tough thing to do, but who are the riders that Crash.net believes could pose a serious challenge to the former Moto2 world champion?
An obvious choice because of his status as championship leader, but Quartararo’s performance in Austria is perhaps the bigger reason why he’s a major contender to fight Bagnaia for the victory.
The Yamaha rider could easily have made a mistake after being on the limit throughout the Austrian MotoGP in order to just match the Ducatis around him.
However, no mistake came as Quartararo instead showed yet again why he remains the title favourite.
Clearly a track that suited Ducati, Quartararo got the better of Jorge Martin and Jack Miller late on before rapidly closing in on Bagnaia for the win.
Like Quartararo, any list that involves riders challenging for victories or being the best riders in MotoGP should include the Aprilia rider.
But with that said, for all the brilliance Espargaro has shown this season – there have been too many to count – the Spaniard still has just one win to his name which will need to change if he wants to clinch the world title.
Taking victory at Misano would be a great time for him to make that happen, while it would also send a strong message to his rivals.
Aprilia suffered a disappointing weekend at the Red Bull Ring but we should see the likes of Espargaro and Maverick Vinales fighting back at the front based on recent form but also the characteristics of the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
Fresh off the news that he will be joining Bagnaia at the factory Lenovo Ducati team next season and his maiden pole position in MotoGP, Bastianini could also be a favourite to take the fight to Bagnaia.
Misano was home to the Gresini rider’s first-ever premier class rostrum last season, so expect the Italian to be competitive once again.
Despite the GP22 machine becoming a more formidable package in recent races, Bastianini has still shown he can mix it with the very best on his GP21 bike.