The 2019 MotoGP World Championship gets underway in Qatar at the start of March and fans could be in for one of the most exciting title battles in recent years.
Marc Marquez dominated the series for Repsol Honda last season, winning the title by a 76-point margin from Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso. That victory was the Spanish star’s fifth championship in the last six years, but there are reasons to believe he will be pushed much harder this time around.
Three-time champion Jorge Lorenzo has joined his compatriot at Honda and their fight for glory will undoubtedly make the bets more interesting at Sports interaction.
It may appear churlish to question Marquez’s talent after winning five titles in six seasons, but the 25-year-old is certainly not infallible. He crashed 23 times last season, more than any other rider, although most of those came during qualifying.
His first DNF in 2018 came in round 17 in Australia, the race after he’d won the title in Japan, but with Lorenzo operating on the same machinery he could be forced to take more risks during races this term.
Lorenzo has ditched Ducati after a stuttering season where he barely scored points in the opening rounds. He improved to win three races, including a thrilling victory over Marquez in Austria, but huge crashes in Aragon and Thailand meant he ended the season a broken man.
The 2019 campaign is Lorenzo’s biggest challenge yet and his battle with Marquez is sure to keep punters enthralled throughout the season.
Dovizioso is Ducati’s main hope of toppling the Honda duo. The Italian heads into 2019 on the back of successive runner-up finishes in the championship and 10 wins across the past two years. The 32-year-old has looked impressive during testing and could be a force to be reckoned with.
Yamaha had a tough 2018, with Maverick Vinales’ win in the Australian Grand Prix the only victory for the team all season. Valentino Rossi (third) and Vinales (fourth) featured prominently in the standings by the end of the season, but their finishing positions were earned through consistent rather than spectacular performances.
Rookies Francesco Bagnaia, Miguel Oliveira, Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo all have the potential to make their mark in MotoGP, although it is unlikely that any of them will challenge on a consistent basis.
Marquez is understandably the favourite to win his sixth MotoGP title, but Lorenzo looks the value bet in what promises to be an epic season.