Few will deny that the loss of Valentino Rossi for a crucial part of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship is a devastating blow to the series, but his enforced withdrawal could potentially open things up in the race for the title.
Prior to breaking his leg, all eyes were on Rossi and his FIAT Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, particularly after the Spaniard got the better of his illustrious counterpart at Le Mans.
Indeed, Lorenzo was leading the standings heading into Mugello anyway, meaning Rossi's absence essentially elects him as the comfortably favourite for the 2010 title.
Even so, it's one thing being the chaser and an entirely different thing when you are the one being chased…
It's a change of status that could play into the hands of Dani Pedrosa, who signalled his intentions last time out with a fine victory in Italy. He is now best positioned to challenge Lorenzo.
Beyond Lorenzo and Pedrosa, the most obvious candidate to challenge for the title is 2007 winner Casey Stoner, although the Australian's podium-less start to the season is already on the verge of putting him out of contention.
Then there are Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden, who currently next in line to overtake Rossi in the overall standings – could they step up to launch a surprise title fight this season?
It is a question we therefore extend to you…
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