91 points behind heading into Assen, Bagnaia’s victories in the Netherlands and Silverstone, combined with an accident and penalty for Quartararo, means the Italian approaches this weekend’s Austrian round 49 adrift of the Frenchman and 27 from Aleix Espargaro.

That’s still a big gap to the top but with the next three tracks (Red Bull Ring, Misano, Aragon) favourable to Bagnaia and Ducati last season, the MotoGP title fight could well become a firm three-way battle by the start of the flyayways.

Ducati has won six of the eight races since the Red Bull Ring returned to the MotoGP calendar in 2016. KTM has won the other two, with Miguel Oliveira (2020) and then Brad Binder, who beat dry race leader Bagnaia by staying out on slicks in the rain last season.

This year’s event will feature a new chicane, to slow down the approach to Turn 3, while rain is also a threat throughout the weekend.

Ducati's BIG DECISION coming soon! | Crash.Net MotoGP Podcast 59

"At Silverstone, we recovered several points in the overall standings, but for the moment, I don't want to think about the Championship. I must stay focused, race by race, trying to get the best possible result,” said Bagnaia, whose four race wins are more than any other rider so far this year.

“In the last GP, I got an unexpected victory, and I think it was one of the best of my career. Now we come to Austria, on a track that historically has always been favourable to Ducati.

“We'll have to see what it will be like now with the new chicane, but I'm convinced that the conditions are there for us to do well. I'm ready and excited to race at the Red Bull Ring again!"

Team-mate Jack Miller, who took his fourth podium of the season at Silverstone, will also be looking for his first Red Bull Ring win, losing out to Oliveira in the three-way final turn showdown also involving Pol Espargaro in 2020.

"I'm happy to be racing in Austria again this weekend,” said Miller, who will return as a ‘home’ KTM rider next season.

“The Red Bull Ring is a track I like and where I have already finished on the podium in the past. Last year we were unlucky with a crash in the first race and rain that caught us in the second.

“My goal is to be able to redeem myself this year: we're going through a positive moment, and my sensations on the Desmosedici GP are really good. I'm confident and determined to do well in this race as well."

Miller is sixth in the world championship but just 7 points behind Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco and 11 from Gresini Ducati’s Enea Bastianini.

A decision on whether Bastianini or Pramac's Jorge Martin will take over Miller's factory seat for 2023 will be made after this weekend.