The next chapter of the 2019 MotoGP season will be written in San Marino this weekend, with Honda's Marc Marquez seeking to take another step towards the world title.
Marquez was edged out by Alex Rins in a thrilling British Grand Prix last time out, although Andrea Dovizioso's retirement from the race allowed the Spaniard to extend his lead at the top of the standings. The defending champion now has a massive 78-point advantage with just seven races remaining in the season.
While the destination of the title seems inevitable, recent races have been thrilling spectacles for fans, and San Marino is a circuit that's produced drama down the years.
Weekend Schedule (BST)
Friday, September 13
FP1: 8:55-9:40 a.m.
FP2: 1:10-1:55 p.m.
Saturday, September 14
FP3: 8:55-9:40 a.m.
FP4: 12:30-1 p.m.
Q1: 1:10-1:25 p.m.
Q2: 1:35-1:50 p.m.
Sunday, September 15
Race: 1 p.m.
At the British Grand Prix, for the second race in succession, Marquez lost a last-lap battle for victory.
Even with a huge chasm between his position and the rest of the field, finishing second to Rins at Silverstone would have stung the Spaniard. BT Sport shared the final stages of an epic scrap, with the Suzuki rider doing brilliantly to hold off his rival:
The MotoGP Twitter account noted just how close it was between the duo in the dash for the line:
Marquez was still able to extend his lead in the race for his sixth MotoGP crown, because his nearest title rival didn't put any points on the board at Silverstone.
After pipping Marquez to victory in the Austrian Grand Prix, Dovizioso endured a tough afternoon at the British race. The Italian was sent flying off his Ducati after a collision with Fabio Quartararo and was taken away from the circuit on a stretcher.
On social media, the Italian praised the safety equipment he had in place on the day, which prevented the crash from being a lot more serious:
Andrea Dovizioso @AndreaDovizioso
Incredible data from my leather suit Tech-Air system!!! Thanks to @Alpinestars to take care of my safety on the track! 👍 #Dovi04 #DesmoDovi #AD04 #ForzaDucati #MotoGP #Alpinestars #SuomyHelmets #RedBull #OldWildWest #Biotekna #Mondottica #DucatiEyewear https://t.co/oojSh5S2zh
Dovizioso's performance after such a major incident will be one of the main storylines in Sunday's race, but at Misano there's one man who dominates the attention of the fans—nine-time champion Valentino Rossi.
The Yamaha man has yet to get a win on the board this season, and it would be fitting for him to secure his first of the year in front of his many admirers.
In the buildup to the race, Rossi has been exploring his hometown of Tavullia on his Yamaha M1, prompting scenes sure to provide inspiration for the 40-year-old ahead of Sunday's race:
The MotoGP Twitter account provided an insight into the kind of fanatical backing Rossi will receive in San Marino:
Going into Sunday's race, it's difficult to make a case for Rossi winning, with the Yamaha short of the pace shown by Honda and Ducati. If the MotoGP legend can make it onto the podium, it should be enough to send the fans home happy.
Dovizioso was the winner at Misano a year ago, and after a challenging previous race he will be desperate to bounce back in the best way possible. However, it'll be too much to ask for him to halt Marquez, who has finished in the top two of every race he's finished this season.