Defending MotoGP Virtual Race ‘champion’ Alex Marquez predicts both Francesco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo to remain his key challengers in this weekend’s second race.

10 riders are lining up for the second MotoGP Virtual Race, a 10-lap event at Austria’s Red Bull Ring run on the MotoGP19 video game, with Alex Marquez set to be the early favourite following his victory in the inaugural Virtual Race last time out.

Knowing he’ll be the target to beat for the rest of the MotoGP field, which includes Valentino Rossi for the first time, Marquez says he has ramped up his practice during the coronavirus shutdown period in preparation for the race and he expects both Bagnaia and Quartararo to be his biggest threats after the pair finished on the podium behind him in the first race.

“It will be nice to put on another show, but I think lots of the others will have been training harder! I’ve been practicing again at the Red Bull Ring, it’s quite different to Mugello with a lot of heavy braking,” Alex said.

“In Mugello we saw a lot of people were on the limit, so I think Turn 1 of the race could be very exciting! It will be interesting to see how everyone has improved, but I still think Pecco and Fabio will be a big challenge.”

Once again Alex is joined by his brother and team-mate Marc Marquez racing for the Repsol Honda squad and will be hoping to improve on his fifth place finish from the opener two weeks ago, ending the race behind the podium trio plus Maverick Vinales who claimed fourth place.

Marquez admits he’s also increased his preparations for the second race in a bid to improve his victory hopes and remains optimistic about his chances.

“Well, since the last race I have stepped up my training a bit more,” Marc said. “When you’re a racer you want to win no matter what you are doing but most importantly this is for the fans.

“It’s nice to have something else to focus on alongside physical training. Everyone seemed to really enjoy watching it last time so it should be another funny race. Let’s see what happens at the Red Bull Ring.”

MotoGP’s Virtual Race II gets underway with a five-minute qualifying shootout before the 10-lap race with coverage starting at 14:00 BST on Sunday April 12.