Bengaluru, July 12: It is the final race before the summer break and the last chance for many to regain some momentum as the FIM MotoGP World Championship caravan heads to Sachsenring in Germany.
Since his MotoGP debut in 2013, no one has beaten reigning champion Marc Marquez to the top step at the Sachsenring.
The Repsol Honda rider has eight straight wins at the track -- one in the 125 World Championship in 2010, two in Moto2 (2011 and 2012) and every year since in the premier class.
That makes the goal for the rest of the grid a simple one -- break the 'King of the Sachsenring'.
It is all said easier than done. The final battle of the first half of the season will take place at another venue steeped in history and although the track itself is newer, the anti-clockwise venue is a unique one. The weather could also play a role, with the German GP always more of a question mark than many other tracks on the grid. But the field won't leave it to chance - with the points gap behind Marquez only continuing to grow, they can't afford to.
Marquez's biggest competition may well come from team-mate Dani Pedrosa, whose MotoGP record at the 3.5km German track is equalled only by his record at Valencia. The number 26 has won four times at the venue, an it will be a big weekend for him.
Valentino Rossi is another name with a great CV at the track, including four premier class wins. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider is also the closest challenger to Marquez in the title fight as it stands, making it everything to play for for the nine-time world champion.
A winner at the venue for two manufacturers, too, Rossi will surely be a threat - as will team-mate Maverick Vinales. Vinales' record isn't as shimmering, with two podiums in the lightweight class, but the Spaniard beat the 'Doctor' over the line last season and has his own aspirations to the crown, sitting third overall...
Strong Sachsenring in sight for @YamahaMotoGP@ValeYellow46 and @maverickmack25 are looking to strengthen their Championship position as they hit the mid-point of the season in Germany 🇩🇪#MotoGP | #GermanGP 📰 https://t.co/cfdt8RMvnH pic.twitter.com/Yp4ZFkvf23— MotoGP™🏁🇩🇪 (@MotoGP) July 11, 2018
Last season, however, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) beat both the Movistar Yamahas to complete the podium. The Italian has a solid record at the track added to by the rostrum finish, and the Borgo Panigale factory have won there before, back in 2008 with Casey Stoner.
'DesmoDovi' needs some form and began to recover that in Assen, taking fourth to move up to fifth in the standings - can he keep the tide turning a little on team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in Germany?
The Sachsenring is one of very few venues where the number 99 has never won, but two out of the last three wins for Lorenzo makes it a big statement for Dovizioso if he can turn the odds against the Spaniard.
The German GP weekend begins on Friday (July 13), before the race puts another 25 points on the table on Sunday (July 15) at 2pm local time (5.30PM IST).
With Marquez so far ahead, the reigning champion can afford to take a few risks in Germany - but his competitors can't afford to let him go. Ready to vroom?