Marc Marquez returns to Spain as the MotoGP standings leader ahead of Sunday's 2016 Grand Prix of Aragon, but a stagnant period in results could see the young marvel fall closer to the pack this weekend.
The 23-year-old holds a 43-point advantage over second-placed Valentino Rossi, but after failing to register a podium finish in either of his last two races, there's everything to ride for at MotorLand Aragon this Sunday.
Marquez hasn't won a race since the 2016 German Prix back in July, whereas Rossi has clinched third or higher in his last three outings and is looking to close the gap with only five races of the season remaining.
Jorge Lorenzo will also be staking a claim on top spot in Aragon, a race he's won the last two years in succession, with the hope of doing what no other rider has done before and seal a hat-trick of victories.
Read on for a breakdown of Sunday's race schedule, complete with information on how you can live-stream the action and a preview of which riders to keep an eye on.
|2016 Aragon Grand Prix Schedule|
|Friday, Sept. 9||8:55 a.m||Free Practice 1|
|Friday, Sept. 9||1:05 p.m.||Free Practice 2|
|Saturday, Sept. 10||8:55 a.m||Free Practice 3|
|Saturday, Sept. 10||12:30 p.m.||Free Practice 4|
|Saturday, Sept. 10||1:10 p.m.||Qualifying 1|
|Saturday, Sept. 10||1:35 p.m.||Qualifying 2|
|Sunday, Sept. 11||1 p.m.||Race|
Marquez may be the young, Spanish whiz on most people's minds these days, but Maverick Vinales is another of his prodigious countrymen currently causing waves at the elite level of motor racing.
After winning the Best Rookie Award for the class of 2015, Vinales recently followed up that potential by winning the British Grand Prix at the start of September, and he told the media he's looking forward to a home return on Sunday:
The Motorland circuit is a very interesting one, it has a variety of areas that make it a demanding but fun layout. We arrive here with a positive feeling – the victory at Silverstone gave us an extra injection of confidence and in Misano, we did the best we could considering the conditions.
Also, Aragon is tricky regarding the weather. It could be cold or extremely hot.
Some races ago we were more worried about hot temperatures, but after Misano, we can approach this with more confidence as we finally proved we can be competitive in high temperatures and that was one of the things we were worried about previously.
The 21-year-old has also been hard at work in the gym preparing for what could be a memorable Spanish outing in Aragon, per his official Twitter account:
Not only did Vinales take top spot at Silverstone earlier this month, but he also recorded the fastest lap for the second race this season and is beginning to assert his presence among the best of MotoGP.
The future undoubtedly promises big things for one of the major starlets of the sport, but fifth-placed Vinales can threaten the rider standings' top three right now with the right display on Sunday.
From one of the circuit's breakthrough stars to one of its more established assets, Lorenzo returns to Spain in 2016 with a third successive Aragon GP in sight, something no rider has ever accomplished.
The three-time MotoGP world champion told the official MotoGP website his Yamaha may not be suited to the environment, but he'll make his run at back-to-back wins all the same:
Despite the high expectations in Misano, we finally could come back to the podium after some bad races. In Misano we worked really well throughout the weekend but ultimately Dani and Vale were faster than us. At least we got another podium and we found the line regarding the setting with the bike. Now it‘s time to go to Aragon.
This track never suits our bike perfectly but over the last years we were able to win several times so you never know, especially this season with the new tyres everything is challenging and tricky. I‘m eager to fight on home soil and I will try to taste victory again.
However, MotoGP photojournalist Neil Spalding recently pushed the notion Yamaha team-mate Rossi has succeeded with recent intimidation tactics toward his partner:
Lorenzo recently ended a poor period of results with his third-place finish at the San Marino Grand Prix, having finished 17th and eighth in his two outings prior to that result.
It's been some months since Lorenzo enjoyed a consistent period of challenging for top spot, meaning he now faces a make-or-break moment if he's to contend for the 2016 world title.