2019 Dutch TT (MotoGP) – Preview

The 2019 Catalan Grand Prix was a championship-defining race in the 2019 MotoGP World Championship after Jorge Lorenzo, who showed much improved form at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, took out Maverick Viñales, Valentino Rossi, and Andrea Dovizioso like a bowling ball on Lap Two of the race, while Marc Márquez managed to just avoid the incident and took the lead on his way to his 74th Grand Prix victory across all classes, and his 48th in the premier class to move into outright fourth for most premier class wins ahead of Lorenzo, and is now just two wins away from moving to equal-fourth alongside Mike Hailwood for most race victories across all classes.

However, most importantly, Márquez extends his lead in the championship to 37 points over Dovizioso as MotoGP heads to Assen for the 2019 Dutch TT, Round Eight of the 2019 season.

Márquez (140 points) leads the way for the Repsol Honda Team over Dovizioso (103 points) for Mission Winnow Ducati, and right now, given the way Márquez is riding right now, Dovizioso (and others) are firmly out of championship contention, unless Márquez has two or probably three retirements, or misses two or three races, or has a combination of each, and although Márquez does have a tendency for taking a few risks, the possibility of others getting back into world championship appears highly unlikely.

And, what’s worse for the rivals of Márquez is that it could have been a lot worse if the defending world champion had not crashed out of the Grand Prix of the Americas, a race where Márquez was previously undefeated at. It is going take a miracle, perhaps beyond that, for someone other than Márquez to win the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Álex Rins (101 points) is third in the championship for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR after finishing fourth in Barcelona, and remains just ahead of Dovizioso’s teammate Danilo Petrucci (98 points) who finished third.

Valentino Rossi (72 points) is fifth in the world championship for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP after a second-straight retirement, the first time that has happened since the final three completed races of 2011 when he was at Ducati (NOTE: Does not include the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix), while Jack Miller (53 points) leads the battle from behind for Alma Pramac Racing after his fourth points finish of 2019 (all Top Fives).

Fabio Quartararo (51 points) moves up into seventh in the championship for Petronas Yamaha SRT after claiming his first premier class podium in Barcelona, finishing second, and looks likely to challenge for a race victory before the season comes to an end.

Behind him, Takaaki Nakagami (48 points) is eighth for LCR Honda, and Pol Espargaró (47 points) is ninth for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing after strong points finishes, while Cal Crutchlow (42 points) slips to 10th in the standings for LCR Honda after failing to finish for the second time in 2019.

So, who will win the 2019 Dutch TT?

The race at Assen is always a good race that always tends to suit most bikes on the grid, and is loved by all of the riders. I am going to tip Marc Márquez to continue to extend his championship lead, ahead of Fabio Quartararo and Jack Miller in what will be a thrilling race!

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2019 French Grand Prix – Preview

The 2019 Canadian Grand Prix was largely uneventful, but in the end, it proved very controversial with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel given a five-second time penalty by the race stewards for re-joining the track unsafely at Turn Three, and forcing Lewis Hamilton off the track on Lap 48, with Hamilton being forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting the wall, and Vettel, which would have resulted in a massive accident!

This meant that Hamilton claimed his seventh Canadian Grand Prix victory to equal Michael Schumacher’s record, in terms of race wins, at the Canadian Grand Prix, despite Hamilton crossing the line in a close second behind Vettel.

However, Ferrari have requested their right to have the decision reviewed, and is arguably the biggest subplot heading into the 2019 French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet for Round Eight of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (162 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by 29 points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (133 points) after claiming his fifth race victory in the opening seven races of 2019, and it is the ninth-straight race that Hamilton has finished either first or second. And, in the six previous occasions that Hamilton has won five or more races in a season, he has gone onto win the world championship five times.

While for Bottas, you feel that the French Grand Prix has turned into a must win race for him after finishing 51.043 seconds behind his teammate in fourth at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. If Bottas can’t win this weekend, and is beaten by his teammate, you sense that his world championship hopes might start to slip away.

Vettel (100 points) is third in the championship after having the almost perfect weekend, claiming pole position ahead of Hamilton by a margin of 0.206 seconds, and then led 63 of the 70 laps to cross the line first ahead of Hamilton. However, Vettel made a mistake on Lap 48, running wide at Turn Three, missing the corner, and then in the opinion of the race stewards, re-joined the circuit unsafely, and almost causing what would have been a massive accident with Hamilton, with Hamilton having to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

Looking at the incident over and over again, I feel like it was one of those 50/50 incidents where you could argue that Vettel did all he could to re-join the track safely and not have the situation of a potential collision, but you could have also argued the opposite.

I think though what the race stewards (and in large the FIA) are trying to say is that if a similar thing happened involving one or two inexperienced drivers (in terms of Formula One experience), especially if the inexperienced driver had been in Hamilton’s position, it would have almost certainly have resulted in a massive accident, and with safety being absolutely paramount in the sport today, the race stewards really had little choice but to penalise Vettel, much to the disgust of most fans, and most certainly to the anger of former Formula One drivers, most of whom participated in the sport in an era(s) where safety was of lesser consideration than it is today, and no matter how they justify their opinions on this and similar incidents, they cannot remove the fact that they participated in the sport in an era(s) where danger was almost at every turn, and that their opinions are shaped by those experiences, even if it is merely subconscious.

In the end, I don’t think Ferrari’s chances of overturning the penalty are that strong, and will have to regroup after Vettel’s “near perfect” race, and unfortunately in this era of Formula One with a team like Mercedes producing the results they are producing right now, being “near perfect” is just not good enough!

Max Verstappen (88 points) is fourth in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fifth in Canada from ninth on the grid, and the last car on the lead lap, and remains ahead of Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc (72 points) in the standings despite Leclerc finishing a close third in Montréal.

Behind the Top Five in the championship, Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (36 points) is 36 points behind Leclerc, and seemingly a mile away from being in contention for a race win, but remains ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (18 points), and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (16 points), who put in a magnificent performance to finish in sixth after qualifying in a remarkable fourth! Ricciardo is now eighth in the standings, ahead of Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (14 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes driver Sergio Pérez (13 points), who is equal on points with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen (13 points).

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (295 points) still dominate to the tune of a 123-point margin ahead of Ferrari (172 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (124 points) in a lonely third. Behind them, McLaren-Renault (30 points) are still in fourth, but Renault (28 points) are right behind them, and are starting to show the form that we were expecting, with Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (19 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (16 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), and sadly Williams-Mercedes (zero points) behind them.

So, who is going to triumph at the 2019 French Grand Prix?

Although I think the characteristics of the Circuit Paul Ricard could potentially suit Ferrari, I still think it will suit the characteristics of the Mercedes even better, and I feel like Lewis Hamilton will make it four wins in a row this weekend!

2019 Catalan GP (MotoGP) – Preview

What a race at Mugello! It was the race of the year so far, and it delivered a well-deserved first time Grand Prix winner in Italian Danilo Petrucci in front of his home crowd on the Ducati in a nailbiter ahead of Marc Márquez, who extended his championship lead ahead of Petrucci’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, and Álex Rins, with the Top Four covered by just 0.535 seconds!

However, the MotoGP grid heads to Spain, and to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for Round Seven of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, the 2019 Catalan Grand Prix as Grand Prix motorcycle racing celebrates its 70th birthday!

Márquez (115 points) leads the championship by 12 points for the Repsol Honda Team, ahead of Dovizioso (103 points) for Mission Winnow Ducati.

Márquez set up his weekend at Mugello very well by taking an amazing pole position, the 56th of his premier class career, moving ahead of Valentino Rossi into outright-second on the list of most pole positions in the premier class, and is now just two behind Mick Doohan’s record of 58 premier class pole positions.

However, it wasn’t an easy weekend for Dovizioso, only qualifying ninth after having to go through the first part of qualifying, but did extremely well to recover and finish third in the race, but has lost ground on Márquez, and you sense Dovizioso needs to win the Catalan Grand Prix to give himself a fighting chance in the 2019 championship battle.

Rins (88 points) is third in the world championship for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR after coming back from 13th on the grid to finish a close fourth. Unless there is a problem with the actual Suzuki bike itself over one lap that doesn’t exist over long race runs, which is plausible given Rins has consistently not qualified well in 2019 so far, Rins has got to qualify way better than he has if he is going to challenge consistently for race wins.

Petrucci (82 points) moves up into fourth in the championship after claiming his first MotoGP race victory at Mugello in Italy, and while I don’t think he is a serious championship contender, he will need to help his teammate Dovizioso steal points off Márquez consistently to give Dovizioso a great chance of winning his first premier class world championship.

Valentino Rossi (72 points) drops to fifth in the standings for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP after having an absolute shocker at Mugello, qualifying in 18th (his equal-worst qualifying performance) after failing to get to the finish line in time to start one more flying lap, and then was unusually lacklustre in the race, crashing out of the Italian Grand Prix on Lap Eight, and it wasn’t because of a lack of performance from the bike, but in my opinion because of a lack of performance from the great man himself, almost a sign that his time in MotoGP, at least as a competitve force, may well be coming to an end, sadly!

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Jack Miller (42 points) is sixth for Alma Pramac Racing after performing well at Mugello before crashing out on Lap 16, and is level on points with Cal Crutchlow (42 points) for LCR Honda, but ahead of Crutchlow due better race results, with Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (40 points) struggling in eighth in the standings after finishing sixth in Italy, while Crutchlow’s teammate Takaaki Nakagami (40 points), and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Pol Espargaró (38 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings after strong performances at the Italian Grand Prix.

However, the struggles for Jorge Lorenzo (19 points) at Repsol Honda Team are continuing after another race finish outside of the Top 10, and down in 14th in the championship, and you feel like there is no way out of this shocking form slump, and drastic changes are required from him to return to the form we know he can produce!

So, who is going to win the Catalan Grand Prix?

With five Top Two finishes from six races, Marc Márquez is the obvious choice to win at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but who finishes behind him gets a bit more complicated with the varying strengths of the bikes, and varying form of the riders, but I think Andrea Dovizioso, who has finished inside the Top Four in all six races in 2019, is the safest choice to finish second, while I think Álex Rins will finish third if he can qualify well, just ahead of Jack Miller.

2019 Canadian Grand Prix – Preview

It was arguably one of the best performances of his career! It was a drive that would have made three-time world champion and Non-Executive Chairman at Mercedes, the late-great Niki Lauda hugely proud! It was a gutsy, tough, strong drive which enabled Lewis Hamilton to win the Monaco Grand Prix for a third time, and allow him to take a relatively firm grip on the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which heads to Montreal in Canada, and to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the seventh round of 21.

Hamilton (137 points) leads the championship by 17 points for Mercedes over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (120 points) after a champion-like drive on the streets of Monaco, putting together his best lap at the right time to claim pole position, and then holding off Max Verstappen, who had a five-second time penalty hanging over him for an unsafe release into Bottas in the pit stop under safety car conditions, on the medium-compound tyres to take a memorable race victory dedicated to Lauda.

Meanwhile, Bottas had some troubles of his own after pitting under safety car conditions on Lap 11 for medium-compound tyres, and having his tyres punctured after Verstappen was released into the path of Bottas in the pit lane, forcing Bottas to pit again, this time for hard-compound tyres, and losing track position, coming back out in fourth behind Hamilton, Verstappen, and Sebastian Vettel, and while he was able to gain a place after the race due to Verstappen’s penalty, he was unable to pass Vettel, and for the first time in 2019, Mercedes weren’t able to finish first and second. It is a huge blow for his championship challenge against Hamilton, although largely not his fault, but you sense he needs to respond in Canada against his teammate who has now got all the momentum!

Vettel (82 points) is third in the world championship for Ferrari after finishing second in Monaco in what was an underrated drive, but the championship hopes for Vettel are largely up in smoke, and they will need improvements fast just to get close to Mercedes on a consistent basis.

Verstappen (78 points) is fourth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fourth after his five-second time penalty despite putting in a sterling drive, applying extreme pressure on Hamilton on the more ideal hard-compound tyres, but despite a late attempt heading into the Nouvelle Chicane, was unable to pass the five-time world champion, and therefore unable to gain enough time to remain on the podium, or drive away and win the Monaco Grand Prix in what was his best drive of the season.

Charles Leclerc (57 points) is fifth in the standings for Ferrari after a horrible weekend, failing to get out of the first part of qualifying after a tactical error from Ferrari, and in the race as he took a hero or zero approach, after a few great overtakes, he collided into Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg into La Rascasse on Lap Nine, damaging his car extensively as he tried to take his car back to the pits after a tyre puncture that became apparent on the following lap, and his race was effectively over at this point.

In his situation, while you could understand his desperation to get back to the front, patience might have been the better part of valour, something which he has learnt the hard way here, and you sense has now made him the clear second driver at Ferrari going forward into the rest of 2019.

Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (32 points) is sixth in the world championship after finishing fifth in Monaco, ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (18 points), who finished in sixth on the streets of the principality, while Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (14 points), Sergio Pérez (13 points) of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and Kimi Räikkönen (13 points) of Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari complete the Top 10 in the standings after finishing outside the points in Monaco.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (257 points) have a dominant 118 point lead over Ferrari (139 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (110 points) closing in on Ferrari in third. Then, it is slim pickings for McLaren-Renault (30 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (16 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (16 points), Renault (14 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), and unfortunately no points as of yet for Williams-Mercedes in 2019.

So, who will win the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix?

You feel like this should be one of Ferrari’s best chances of halting the winning run of Mercedes, due to the straight-line speed advantage Ferrari have had, but Mercedes are on such a crest of a wave right now, and I think Lewis Hamilton’s win in Monaco, especially in the way it was done, will give him such a boost, and given Hamilton has won six of the 11 races he has competed in at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, he is going to be such a hard man to beat this weekend!

2019 Italian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

Marc Márquez took control of the French Grand Prix, and claimed his third race victory of the season, and his second in as many races to equal his current teammate Jorge Lorenzo in fourth on the all-time list for most premier class wins. However, with three Ducati bikes behind him at Le Mans, the threat to the defending world champion is ever real as the grid heads to the Mugello Circuit in Italy for Round Six of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Márquez (95 points) leads the championship by eight points over Mission Winnow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (87 points), with Dovizioso looking primed for success at Mugello after winning there back in 2017, especially after finishing inside the Top Four after each of the opening five races of 2019, but still faces a tall order given the form Márquez has been in so far this year, despite the strengths of the Ducati being well-suited to Mugello.

Álex Rins (75 points) is third in the world championship for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, 20 points behind Márquez after a shocking French Grand Prix, qualifying only in 19th, and finishing the race only in 10th, his worst result of the season, and his his worst result since last year’s Czech Republic Grand Prix, where he finished in 11th. Rins will need to better in Italy if he wants to stay in the championship fight.

Valentino Rossi (72 points) is three points behind Rins in fourth after finishing fifth at Le Mans, but he knows that Mugello is a great opportunity to score some big points, and with the exception of his first year in the premier class back in 2000, every time he has started and finished the Italian Grand Prix, he has finished inside the Top Six, winning at Mugello seven times (2002-2008) in the premier class. You feel though he really needs to win this weekend if he is to keep his hopes of winning an eighth premier class world championship alive.

Dovizioso’s teammate Danilo Petrucci (57 points) is fifth in the championship, and will be aiming for a podium, if not his first race victory of his career this weekend after finishing third at the French Grand Prix, while Jack Miller (42 points) will be looking continue his good form this weekend for Alma Pramac Racing as he aims to claim what would be the second win of his MotoGP career.

Behind the Top Six in the world championship, Cal Crutchlow (34 points) is seventh for LCR Honda after finishing ninth at Le Mans, followed by Franco Morbidelli (34 points) for Petronas Yamaha SRT, who finished in seventh, just behind Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Pol Espargaró (31 points), who finished the French Grand Prix in sixth in what was the team’s best-ever dry weather performance, while Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (30 points) is in 10th in the championship as his inconsistent season so far continues.

Looking beyond the Top 10, we find Lorenzo (16 points) in 14th position in the standings, and without a Top 10 race finish in 2019, and it is now beyond bewildering as to why he is where he is right now! You have to wonder whether physically he is right, or whether the bike is being set-up right for him, or more specifically whether the set-up of the bike, which may be alright for someone like Márquez, isn’t the right set-up for Lorenzo, because when everything is right, Lorenzo is certainly not this far behind Márquez on a consistent basis. However, we all know he has a great record at Mugello, finishing inside the Top Two in nine of his last 10 races at Mugello, so if he is nowhere near this level this weekend, it will officially be a crisis, and a potentially hopeless situation for Lorenzo to lift himself from.

So, who will win the 2019 Italian Grand Prix?

This is a great opportunity for Ducati to claim a race victory, and although most people will favour either Andrea Dovizioso or Danilo Petrucci this weekend, I am going to predict a surprise race win for Jack Miller, despite his poor record at Mugello, just ahead of Marc Márquez, while Valentino Rossi will claim his 12th premier class podium at Mugello in third position in what will be an exciting race!

2019 Monaco Grand Prix – Preview

Another race, another dominant performance from Mercedes, and a fifth-straight one-two finish with Lewis Hamilton finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas after beating him off the line from second on the grid, while Ferrari continue to underperform in contrast to expectations prior to the season, and would need a massive change in fortune to get on terms with Mercedes when Round Six of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway from the iconic streets of Monaco.

However, before I move into more of the preview, I would like to pay tribute to former three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who has sadly passed away at the age of 70. Lauda was quite simply a Formula One legend, winning the world championship with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and one with McLaren in 1984, claiming 25 wins, 54 podiums, 24 pole positions, and 24 fastest laps across a 177 (171 starts) race career.

However, Lauda was also amazing in his entrepreneurial pursuits in the aviation industry in particular, but came back to work in Formula One later in his life, being employed as a consultant for Ferrari in the 1990s, and was the team principal of Jaguar from 2001 to 2002, but most successfully as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since September 2012, and played a huge role in the signing of Lewis Hamilton, and as they say in the classics, the rest is history! It was a life well lived, a winner, a fighter, a legend! The great Niki Lauda! Rest In Peace!

Looking ahead to the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton (112 points) leads the championship by seven points over his teammate Bottas (105 points) after his third race victory of the season, and the 76th win of his career. Hamilton will be looking to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time in tribute to the man who helped get him to Mercedes, while Bottas will be looking to bounce back after finishing second in Spain, and continue his sublime qualifying form, having taken pole position in each of the last three races.

Max Verstappen (66 points) is a distant third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda, 46 points behind the five-time world champion Hamilton, while Ferrari continue to struggle in contrast to their expectations with Sebastian Vettel (64 points) and Charles Leclerc (57 points) 48 and 55 points behind Hamilton respectively after the opening five races, and face an uphill battle to get somewhat back into contention for race wins, and the championship against the might of Mercedes.

However, the top five currently in the standings have finished inside the top five in each of the opening five races of 2019, and have pulled away from the rest of the grid, with Pierre Gasly (21 points), the teammate of Verstappen, now 36 points behind Leclerc in sixth in the world championship after a disappointing start to his time at Red Bull Racing-Honda.

Behind the top six in the championship, Kevin Magnussen (14 points) is seventh for  Haas-Ferrari, ahead of Sergio Pérez (13 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, while Kimi Räikkönen (13 points), and Lando Norris (12 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, and McLaren-Renault respectively.

However, beyond the Top 10 in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, we find last year’s Monaco Grand Prix winner in Daniel Ricciardo (six points) in 12th position in the standings for his new team Renault after just one points-scoring finish, which was back in the third race of the season in China, the 1000th race in Formula One history, wearing the Jack Brabham tribute helmet, but have largely struggled for speed, and have struggled to be regularly inside the Top 10.

So, how do I think Ricciardo is going to go in Monaco?

I think it is going to be tough for Ricciardo to win for a second-straight year on the streets of the principality, but I think he will be in the thick of things for a high points-scoring finish!

Looking at the Constructors Championship, Mercedes (217 points) lead by 96 points over Ferrari (121 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (87 points) in a comfortable third. Then in the battle of the rest, McLaren-Renault (22 points) is fourth ahead of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (15 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), Renault (12 points), and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (six points), with Williams-Mercedes (zero points) sadly at the back of the field, and looking unlikely to score points anytime soon!

So, who is going to win the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix?

I feel like Mercedes have the strongest car to tackle the slow and tight corners around the streets of Monaco, ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda, while the understeer balance in the Ferrari will hurt them this weekend, and certain teams, in particular Renault, will move up closer to the three front-running teams.

So with that, I am tipping Lewis Hamilton will win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time, with Valtteri Bottas coming home in second, while Max Verstappen will grab his first Monaco podium in Formula One ahead of the amazing Daniel Ricciardo in a brilliant fourth!

2019 French GP (MotoGP) – Preview

Marc Márquez got the swift redemption that he was looking for after crashing out of the Grand Prix of the Americas by winning the Spanish Grand Prix for the second-straight year, and for just the third time in his career, Álex Rins backed up his first MotoGP victory, which he achieved at the Circuit of the Americas by finishing second behind his fellow Spaniard at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto, while Maverick Viñales got his first podium of the season, and his first since winning in Australia last year as he attempts to bounce back after his awful start to 2019.

However, the struggles continued for Jorge Lorenzo at home, finishing only 12th, and he will be desperate to change his fortunes very quickly as the 2019 MotoGP World Championship heads to the Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans in France for Round Five of the championship, the 2019 French Grand Prix.

Márquez (70 points) re-takes the lead of the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by a single point over Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider Rins (69 points) after claiming his 46th MotoGP victory, and his 72nd race victory across all classes. Márquez is just one win away from moving into equal-fourth for most premier class victories alongside his current teammate Lorenzo.

Meanwhile, Rins extended his streak of Top Five finishes to eight after claiming his second podium of the season. Rins has now achieved Top Five finishes in 10 of his last 11 races, but needs to qualify a little bit closer to the front if he is to challenge Márquez on a consistent basis.

Andrea Dovizioso (67 points) is third in the championship for Mission Winnow Ducati after a second-straight fourth-place finish in 2019 at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto, but will be feeling optimistic about his chances over the course of the next three races, maybe not necessarily at Le Mans, but certainly at Mugello and Barcelona, circuits which should suit the characteristics of the Ducati extremely well.

Valentino Rossi (61 points) is fourth in the championship for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP after finishing a difficult race in sixth after starting the Spanish Grand Prix in 13th after failing to qualify into the second part (Q2) of qualifying. He is 20 points ahead of Dovizioso’s teammate in Danilo Petrucci (41 points) in the standings after the Ducati rider continued his consistent run in 2019 by finishing in fifth-place in Jerez de la Frontera after finishing in sixth in each of the opening three races.

Rossi’s teammate Viñales (30 points) is just 11 points behind Petrucci after finishing third in Spain, but is already 40 points behind Márquez, and his hopes of claiming his first MotoGP World Championship in 2019 almost gone. However, Viñales is certainly capable of winning in France just like he did back in 2017, but he needs to qualify well, and most importantly start well to give himself the best possible chance.

Jack Miller (29 points) is seventh in the world championship for Alma Pramac Racing despite crashing out of the Spanish Grand Prix, and is ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (29 points) in the standings by virtue of his third-place finish at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Nakagami’s LCR Honda teammate Cal Crutchlow (27 points) is ninth in the championship just two points behind his teammate after finishing eighth at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto, while Franco Morbidelli (25 points) completes the Top 10 in the standings by finishing the Spanish Grand Prix in seventh for Petronas Yamaha SRT.

However, it was heartbreak for Morbidelli’s teammate Fabio Quartararo (17 points), who after becoming the youngest rider to claim pole position in the history of the premier class, was running in a comfortable second behind Márquez before a gearbox issue struck on Lap 14, ending his chances of a first MotoGP podium and leaving him in 13th position in the world championship.

Immediately behind Quartararo in the standings, it is Lorenzo (11 points), who had an absolutely awful race in Jerez de la Frontera, finishing 12th and 18.473 behind his teammate and race winner Márquez, and looking like a shadow of the rider that has won five world championships, including three in the premier class, and really needs to do some serious soul searching if he wants to return to the level of rider we all know that he can be!

However, Lorenzo has finished inside the Top Seven in all of his MotoGP races at the Circuit Bugatti, and has finished inside the Top Two in nine of his last 10 races at Mugello, so if he doesn’t perform well at either, if not both, of those two races, there will be some serious question marks regarding Lorenzo’s future.

So, who will win the 2019 French Grand Prix?

I think the safest bet will be Marc Márquez, but I think Álex Rins on the Suzuki, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales on the Yamaha, as well as Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati will be his closest challengers in Le Mans.