New Delhi: Since 2013, he has only missed out on one title, thanks to his 56 victories and 95 podiums. In 2019, he scored the most points in premier class history and finished outside of the top two just once in Austin. Going by the numbers, the Catalan Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is once again the huge favourite to clinch the MotoGP™ crown, the action will begin on July 18 with the qualifying race followed by the main race next day in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

 

The season ahead promises to be as exciting as ever, but 2020 could well be a game-changer, especially given the somewhat special circumstances that it will be held in. With such a condensed calendar, one mistake could prove pivotal, meaning the main contenders to Marquez’s throne will fancy their chances.

 

First, there’s Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). No one expected the Frenchman to have the impact he had on MotoGP™ in his debut year; and if they say they did, they’re lying. Named top independent rider and Rookie of the Year, the 21-year-old demonstrated his class with six pole positions and seven podium finishes. He took the fight to Marc Marquez, most notably at Misano and Buriram, but the Spaniard always had his number.

 

However, in 2019 he was fighting with a Yamaha M1 that didn’t have any of the bells and whistles that Rossi and Viñales in the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP garage had; not anymore. With a full factory machine at his disposal this year, El Diablo might have enough to get the better of Marquez and finally take that much sought-after MotoGP™ win.

 

Another rider determined to make Marc Marquez fail is the aforementioned Maverick Viñales. After two years in the doldrums, both Viñales and, in particular, Yamaha appeared to find the right path forward in 2019. Proof of this was the two victories and seven podiums won by the Spaniard. A further boost of energy came throughout winter testing for 2020, when Viñales appeared to have it all covered: race pace, one-lap pace, a competitive package and bags of confidence.

 

Among Marquez's major rivals this year will, of course, be Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). Admittedly, the Italian will arrive at Jerez far from 100% after breaking his left collarbone just two weeks ago. He has been declared fit, but time will only tell how fit Dovi really is. Like Viñales, Ducati won twice in 2019, helping him to a total of nine top-three finishes. But the 34-year-old is no spring chicken and after three consecutive years of being the bridesmaid to Marquez, plus with a new generation starting to emerge, has his best chance of being crowned MotoGP™ World Champion been and gone?

 

Write off Dovizioso at your peril though, just like Valentino Rossi. Yes, The doctor may have a harder time fighting over an entire season but if 2020 is to deliver as the year of surprises, then maybe, just maybe, he can finally clinch that elusive tenth title. Let’s not forget that this year could mark Marquez’s ninth World Championship, and you can be guaranteed that the Italian will be trying his level best to stop his fierce rival from joining the ‘9 Club’.

 

Marc Marquez should also be wary of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), another man with two successes to his name from 2019. When speaking on motogp.com’s A Sit Down With, the Spaniard pointed out that his relationship with Marquez had changed, and that a rivalry was starting to grow.

 

In short, get the popcorn ready. Marc Marquez might have walked the title last year but there were countless classic races scattered throughout the year. The fact that heading into 2020, Repsol Honda and Marc Marquez are well and truly on the back foot after a disastrous pre-season campaign, means we could be in for a changing of the guard. Can anyone write their name into the MotoGP™ history books or will the Marquez era continue to reign in the premier class?