Maverick Vinales is poised to show he is the dominant force in the MotoGP World Championship as he bids for a fourth victory of the season as the series visits Spain for a second time in 2017.
The Movistar Yamaha rider will certainly have his share of home support at Barcelona for the Catalunya Grand Prix but fan loyalties will be split with Repsol Honda team-mates Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa and Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo also racing.
Vinales starts the race as 8/5 favourite and will hope to increase his sizeable lead in the points standings.
Having looked at our odds for the Spanish MotoGP at the Circuit de Barcelona, Vinales should be joined on the podium by joint second favourites Valentino Rossi and Marquez who are both priced at 5/2.
Andrea Dovizioso, a 14/1 shot, will look to back up his Mugello victory with back-to-back wins but do not rule out his Ducati team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
The Spaniard is getting to grips with the Italian machine and has past form in Barcelona having won there while with Yamaha in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
How the Italian Grand Prix finished:
1 Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), 2 Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), 3 Danilo Petrucci (Ducati), 4 Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 5 Alvaro Bautista (Ducati), 6 Marc Marquez (Honda), 7 Johann Zarco (Yamaha), 8 Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati), 9 Michele Pirro (Ducati), 10 Andrea Iannone (Suzuki), 11 Tito Rabat (Honda), 12 Scott Redding (Ducati), 13 Jonas Folger (Yamaha), 14 Hector Barbera (Ducati), 15 Jack Miller (Honda), 16 Karel Abraham (Ducati), 17 Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki), 18 Loriz Baz (Ducati), 19 Sam Lowes (Aprilia), 20 Bradley Smith (KTM), DNF Cal Crutchlow (Honda), Dani Pedrosa (Honda), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), Pol Espargaro (KTM).
Dovizioso gave Italian fans what they wanted – if they could not have a victory for Rossi.
The nine-time world champion had gone into his home race with chest injuries suffered from a motocross training crash.
But to the delight of the Mugello crowd, Rossi contested the early lead along with former team-mate Lorenzo and the Italian’s present fellow Movistar Yamaha rider Vinales.
Lorenzo’s smooth style and the Ducati’s top end power were clearly suited to the flowing circuit but when the Spaniard faded it was his current team-mate Dovizioso who came to the fore despite a lack of sleep caused by a bout of pre-race food poisoning.
The Italian said: “I woke up at four o’clock and I was sick. The feeling wasn’t so good. Before the race the energy wasn’t so good.”
But despite his ill health he was able to give home fans plenty to cheer about as he guided an Italian motorcycle to victory.
“My bike worked well and the speed was there during the weekend. I knew my bike was good to fight for the podium. I decided to go to the front with 10 laps to go, with no reason, but it worked.”
Vinales claimed a fine second place to extend his championship lead to 26 points and in third was a second Italian on a Ducati, Danilo Petrucci, on the satellite team Pramac Racing machine.
Petrucci said: “If someone had said this on Tuesday I would have said OK – where do I have to sign to be on the podium on Sunday?
“I knew I had good pace but for me the target was the fop five. But in Italy I had something extra because it is our home race. For me and my factory it’s unbelievable.”
Considering what had gone before Rossi’s race, to finish fourth was a superb result even if he was not quite able to get on the podium.
Late drama took Cal Crutchlow and fellow Honda rider Pedrosa out of the race on the final lap when the Spaniard attempted a risky pass which left both riders and their machines in the gravel trap.
Past Catalunya Grand Prix results
2016: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
2015: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2014: Marc Marquez (Honda)
2013: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2012: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2011: Casey Stoner (Honda)