With four different winners from the opening five races, and reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez ruled out of contention, the 2020 title race looks wide open.

Marquez’s arm injury will see him sidelined for another 2-3 months, so we’ll be lucky to see the Repsol Honda rider back for the final races of the shortened, 14-round, season.

This year will thus be only the second time that someone other than Marquez has won the MotoGP title since the Spaniard joined the premier-class in 2013.

But who will take over Marquez’s title this time around?

Since no-one has managed more than two out of a possible five podiums so far, the net needs to be cast wide at this stage.

So, with 9 races to go, we take a look at the current top 9 in the title chase, from Fabio Quartararo to fellow race winner Miguel Oliveira...

Fabio Quartararo

Points from top: Leader (70 points)

Wins: 2

Podiums: 2

Average points per race finished: 14

Fabio Quartararo got off to a perfect start by claiming his and Petronas Yamaha’s first two MotoGP victories at Jerez. But a downward trend of 7th, 8th and 13th places since has eroded his title advantage to just 3 points.

Clearly capable of more race wins if the Yamaha package is performing as he needs, the upcoming Misano double header could prove pivotal in terms of his chances of an historic satellite team title.

Quartararo fought Marquez for victory one year ago and has high hopes that the twisty high-grip Italian circuit will again suit the Yamaha.

But while a return to the front in Misano would revitalise Quartararo's championship challenge, another bad weekend would almost certainly cost him the title lead and cast doubt on his chances at other 'friendly' circuits.

Andrea Dovizioso

Points from top: -3

Wins: 1

Podiums: 2

Average points per race finished: 13

As title runner-up to Marc Marquez for the past three seasons, on paper Andrea Dovizioso becomes the man-to-beat for this year’s crown.

In a season of unpredictability, Dovizioso's renowned consistency would normally also be paying dividends.

Like Quartararo, Dovizioso has scored points in every race so far. But, much to the Italian's frustration, his usual high speed across different circuits and weather conditions - has deserted him so far this year.

That was illustrated by a podium in the opening Jerez race, then 6th at the same track just a week later. Likewise, victory in the first Austrian race was followed by 5th place the next weekend.

The new Michelin rear tyre construction continues to taunt Dovizioso and Ducati, whose title chances may well depend on how soon they can crack the puzzle.

While younger riders have time on their side, at 34 - and with his future up in the air after announcing he will be leaving Ducati - it's probably now or never for Dovizioso and a MotoGP title.

Jack Miller

Points from top: -14

Wins: 0

Podiums: 2

Average points per race finished: 14

Jack Miller may not have won a race yet this season, but the Pramac Ducati rider came within 0.3s of doing so in Austria and, had he not fallen in the second Jerez event, might well be leading the MotoGP standings.

Instead he's 14 points behind Quartararo, but the double Austrian podium certainly invigorated his championship challenge and few will be surprised if he becomes the first satellite Ducati rider to win a MotoGP race, ahead of next year's move to the Factory team.

Like all manufacturers, Ducati will surely focus extra attention on its top rider entering the crucial final championship stages. Miller will be eager to prove he offers Ducati their best chance of the crown since countryman Casey Stoner in 2007.

Brad Binder

Points from top: -21

Wins: 1

Podiums: 1

Average points per race finished: 12

Having become the first rookie since Marc Marquez to win a MotoGP race, and given KTM's dramatic leap in form, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Brad Binder might even go on to emulate Marquez in becoming MotoGP champion at his first attempt.

But first Binder needs to sort out qualifying.

Binder's average grid position so far has been just 11th (best of 7th, worst of 17th) but his average for raced finished works out at 7th place. Remove the first Jerez result, where he ran off track and re-joined in last, and his average race finish is close to 3rd.

The Jerez mistakes have left Binder 21 points from the top, but he was also unlucky in the sense that his stunning debut victory came at the only circuit so far that has hosted just one race.

If there had been another event at Brno the following weekend, as occurred at Jerez and the Red Bull Ring, few would have bet against the South African fighting for back-to-back wins and therefore being even higher in the points' standings.

Maverick Vinales

Points from top: -22

Wins: 0

Podiums: 2

Average points per race finished: 12

After solid runner-up finishes at Jerez, Maverick Vinales has experienced the opposite problem to Binder; the Spaniard being lightning fast in practice and qualifying, yet struggling in the races.

The Monster Yamaha star has qualified on the front row on three out of five occasions, and started no lower than fifth, but - since Jerez - Vinales has scored just 8 out of a possible 75 points.

The good news is that he wasn't injured in the Austrian brake failure and remains in touch with Quartararo and the title lead despite the DNF. But like Quartararo, Vinales is putting pressure on Yamaha to solve the recent performance difficulties before it's too late.

Meanwhile, having already lost one of his five engines for the season, Vinales will be keeping his fingers crossed that the Austrian accident hasn't destroyed another…

Takaaki Nakagami

Points from top: -24

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Average points per race finished: 9

Takaaki Nakagami has been performing heroics on a year-old LCR Honda, justifying and rewarding HRC's increased support of the Japanese since Marc Marquez's injury.

Nakagami felt he was not only on course for a debut MotoGP podium until the Styrian Grand Prix was red-flagged, but also perhaps a first race victory.

More opportunities to climb the rostrum will surely follow and, if they can be added to Nakagami's consistency so far, there's no reason why he cannot hold on to a career-best top six in the standings.

Nakagami joins Quartararo and Dovizioso as the only riders to have scored points in all five races so far this season.

Valentino Rossi

Points from top: -25

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Average points per race finished: 11

Valentino Rossi may only be seventh in the world championship, and the third-best Yamaha, but he has finished as the top M1 rider in the last two races.

Admittedly, that only meant fifth and ninth places, but might it be a further sign that Rossi's new set-up direction - which brought instant podium success in the second Jerez event - will also pay off in the long term?

As Franco Morbidelli said: "The only Yamaha guy that seems to maintain a good average so far this season is Vale."

Amidst the up-and-down fortunes experienced by all the current frontrunners, the 41-year-old's unrivalled experience must also be a benefit. And, without the engine failure at Jerez, Rossi would certainly be less than the current 25 points from the top.

But the Italian's chances of adding to his Andalucia podium and rising up the championship table will depend heavily on sorting out his qualifying form, having been left 10th, 12th and 14th in the events since Jerez.

Joan Mir

Points from top: -26

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Average points per race finished: 15

Joan Mir may not have won a MotoGP race yet, but he's climbed the podium for the first time this season and was leading confidently when the Styrian race was red-flagged.

Indeed, as a gauge of his potential this season, Mir has the highest average points-per-race finished (15 points) of any rider during the opening five rounds. However, DNFs at Jerez and Brno mean he is already over one race win from the top of the standings.

But with his confidence increasing by the race, and rivals casting an envious eye at the Suzuki's impressive mix of speed and handling, Mir will surely be one to watch as the season goes on.

Miguel Oliveira

Points from top: -27

Wins: 1

Podiums: 1

Average points per race finished: 14

Coming into this season, KTM was yet to finish in the top five of a dry MotoGP race and the satellite Tech3 team hadn't won a premier-class grand prix after 19-years of trying.

Brad Binder may have beaten Miguel Oliveira to the first accolade, courtesy of a shock victory at Brno, but Oliveira achieved arguably an even great feat by becoming the first winner for Tech3 - and indeed Portugal - with a majestic final turn move in Styria.

It'll clearly be a huge task, but it would be foolish to rule out Oliveira – or indeed any of the four race winners so far - from mounting a championship challenge. After all, KTM insists all of its riders have the same factory-spec machinery.

Oliveira also has one of the best average points-per-races finished (at 14 points), equalling Miller and Quartararo.

But, like Mir, Oliveira's championship position has been hurt by two DNFs, being taken down by Binder at Jerez and then a clash with Pol Espargaro in the first Austrian race.

If Oliveira can avoid further trouble, and build on his historic victory, who knows where it might take him…

From what you've seen so far, who do you think will go on to win the 2020 MotoGP title? Leave your comments below.

 

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