After eight unpredictable rounds, have a small group of riders finally emerged as true 2020 MotoGP title contenders?

The top eight in the world championship were all covered by 25 points heading into the recent Catalunya round.

But by the chequered flag in Barcelona, only four remained within one-race win of the top.

Fabio Quartararo's first victory since Jerez propelled the Petronas Yamaha rider back to the head of the standings, while the previous leader Andrea Dovizioso dropped to fourth place (-24 points) after being caught up in Johann Zarco's lap one fall.

Between them now sit Suzuki's Joan Mir (-8 points) and Monster Yamaha's Maverick Vinales (-18 points).

With fifth-place Franco Morbidelli now 31 points from the top and openly doubting whether a rider on a satellite ('A-Spec') bike can fight for the crown, is MotoGP now poised for a Quartararo-Mir-Vinales-Dovizioso championship shootout or will further twists shuffle the pack yet again?

Six rounds, starting in Le Mans this weekend, will decide the outcome...

Home star Quartararo arrives in France as the only rider to have won more than a single race so far this year, but how long can he continue to alternate between just two engines?

Mir meanwhile is yet to take a MotoGP victory, but he's scored more points than anyone else over the last seven rounds.

Vinales' race fortunes continue to ebb and flow almost at random, while Dovizioso's famed consistency kept him in the hunt despite battling braking issues with the new rear tyre construction.

But the Barcelona crash means Dovizioso must now outscore his main rivals, not contain them, and for that he will need to find the kind of raw speed shown at times by Pramac duo Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller.

If last year's race is anything to go by, Ducati (second, third and fourth behind Marc Marquez) should be strong this weekend, but this season has shown that even when back-to-back races are held one week apart on the same track, the result can be totally different.

Watch the weather

MotoGP hasn't had a fully wet race since Valencia 2018, but if the forecasts are to be believed rain (and chilly morning temperatures) could well be a factor at Le Mans this weekend.

If it does rain on Sunday, it would through another curveball into an already unpredictable season and perhaps cause another major twist in the title fight given that the likes of Quartararo and Mir are yet to complete a single wet MotoGP race lap.

Straight from Portimao

Most of the MotoGP field arrive in France after taking part in a special test session at Portimao, venue for the new 2020 season finale.

While the full-time MotoGP riders (with the exception of Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro, due to concessions) were restricted to street bikes for track familiarisation purposes in Portugal, the factory test riders gathered data on the prototype machines.

So spare a thought for Honda's test and replacement rider Stefan Bradl, who will have ridden his RC213V for five consecutive days by the end of this weekend; two days in Portimao, then three at Le Mans.

 

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