MotoGP 2018: Can anyone stop Marc Márquez?
As a new MotoGP season looms there is only one question on everybody's lips…who can stop the four-times champion from retaining his crown?Nadal vs Thiem live online: 2018 French Open final
Marc Márquez heads into the new MotoGP season as the hot favourite to become a five-time champion after dominating the sport since his debut in 2013.
The Spaniard has been a revelation over the past five years at Repsol Honda, with only the 2015 campaign seeing him fail to finish top of the pile – he came a lowly (for him) third behind Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
He was back on top the following season, and last year Márquez claimed back-to-back titles for the second time in his career as he prevailed in a battle with Andrea Dovizioso.
Dovizioso found pace in his Ducati where new team-mate Lorenzo could not, but it was still insufficient to deny legend-in-the-making Márquez success.
All the usual contenders will line up for the opening race of the season in Qatar on Sunday but can any of them stop the reigning champion? Here we take a look at their chances in 2018.
If Márquez is a legend in the making, Rossi is already there after winning seven MotoGP titles in his career; the new season with be his 17th in the highest class of racing.
Rossi – whose contract expires at the end of the season – only claimed one race win during the previous campaign, but his nous and experience make him a viable contender for the championship.
A lot will depend on how his Movistar Yamaha performs, because he undoubtedly has the talent to challenge Márquez.
Battles between Lorenzo and Márquez were a common sight when the former partnered Rossi at Movistar Yamaha, but his decision to move to Ducati in 2017 backfired.
All too often Lorenzo was off the pace with his new team, but with 12 months of collaboration behind them they could challenge at the front of the grid again.
The three-time champion will hope his previous form in Qatar can give him a head start – he has won at the Losail International Circuit on six occasions, three of which came in the premier class.
With the same power, handling and technology underneath him, Pedrosa has all the tools to push his team-mate across the 19 races – starting in Qatar.
Team orders could hinder his title tilt, though, with Márquez likely to have the first call on any decisions given his standing within the garage.
Much was expected of Viñales when he swapped Suzuki Ecstar for Movistar Yamaha last season, and in the opening races he delivered, marking himself out as a potential future champion.
Wins in Qatar, Argentina and France saw him become the early pacesetter, however he only claimed four more podiums after that and slipped down to third by the last race in Valencia.
He proved he has the ability for a serious fight with Márquez, though he must improve his consistency to spring a surprise.