The 2016 MotoGP season is currently on its mid-season break, after the completion of the German Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
Ahead of the Austrian GP in two weeks’ time, we take a look at how the season has unfolded so far.
At the halfway point of the season, two-time Premier Class winner Marc Marquez is on top of the standings with 170 points, followed by Yamaha’s defending champion Jorge Lorenzo on 122. In third place is Valentino Rossi (111) on the sister Yamaha, while Marquez’ Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa is in fourth (96).
Qatar Grand Prix – March 20
After starting from pole position, Lorenzo started his title defence in style with a convincing victory at the Losail International Circuit.
During the early part of the race, Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso coasted into the leading positions on their powerful Ducati machines, but after Iannone crashed out on lap 13, the task of the chasing pack was somewhat simplified.
Lorenzo bided his time and regained the lead he lost early on with 14 laps to go. After a small mistake from Dovizioso, Marquez moved into second on the 19th lap. Marquez, though, ran wide on the final lap to let the Ducati rider through and ultimately had to settle for third. In fourth place was Rossi, followed by Pedrosa, while Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales was in fifth.
Argentina Grand Prix – April 3
The race started in dramatic fashion as Michelin withdrew its rear tyre compounds on safety grounds, after Scott Redding crashed out during final practice at the Termas de Rio Honda circuit.
Lorenzo made a flying start but soon slipped off the pace and lost out to Dovizioso, before Marquez and Rossi got past the Italian. The Honda and Yamaha riders would remain in those positions until the end of the race, but further down the field there was more drama.
Lorenzo slid out at turn one with 15 laps to go, while Cal Crutchlow and Aleix Espargaro also went down on the same stretch of tarmac.
At the front of the grid, Pedrosa claimed the last spot on the podium, followed by Eugene Laverty and Hector Barbera.
Grand Prix of the Americas – April 10
Marquez continued his winning run at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin – where he had won on each of his three previous visits – to extend his lead at the top of the table.
Rossi and Dovizioso crashed out early, leaving Lorenzo as the only challenger to Marquez, although the Yamaha rider wasn’t able to make too much of an impression on his Spanish compatriot at the front.
Behind the leading pair, the Ducati of Iannone continued to impress and he was able to claim the final podium spot, ahead of Viñales and his Suzuki team-mate Aleix Espargaro.
Spanish Grand Prix – April 24
Rossi clinched his first win of the season – and his seventh at Jerez – in dominant fashion after starting on pole in Valencia.
The chasing pack, consisting of Lorenzo and Marquez, had no answer to pace of the ‘Doctor’ and claimed the remaining podium positions, having started on the front row next to the Italian.
Dovizioso’s poor luck continued and he had to retire with 18 laps remaining, while the likes of Vinales, Pedrosa and Espargaro were left to fight for the minor positions.
Ultimately Pedrosa’s Honda was good enough for fourth place, while Espargaro edged out Vinales for fifth.
French Grand Prix – May 8
Two weeks later at Le Mans, Lorenzo showed some of the form which won him the title last season and clinched his second win of the season at the famous French track.
Rossi claimed Yamaha’s first one-two of the season after finishing comfortably in second, but Marquez and Dovizioso crashed out almost simultaneously on turn seven while fighting for third place.
In their absence, Vinales was the best of the rest, while Pedrosa – who had dropped down to 11th on the first lap, claimed fourth ahead of Pol Espargaro.
Italian Grand Prix – May 22
Starting on the second row, Lorenzo made a brilliant start and got the lead going into the corner, while being closely followed by Rossi. On lap nine, though, Rossi’s Yamaha engine blew up, forcing the Italian into retirement. It was the team’s second blow-up of the weekend, after Lorenzo suffered the same fate during the warm-ups earlier.
With Rossi out of the picture, Marquez and Lorenzo were left to fight it out for the victory, and on a dramatic final lap at Mugello, with Marquez leading going into the final corner, Lorenzo got the better traction into the final straight to win by 0.019s.
Iannone finished in third place and Dovizioso in fifth, with Pedrosa the meat in the Ducati sandwich.
Catalunya Grand Prix – June 5
Rossi had a shocker at the start and found himself down in eighth place after the first corner, but by the time the seventh lap came, the MotoGP legend had moved past Lorenzo for the lead.
After Iannone and Lorenzo dramatically crashed at the halfway stage of the race, Marquez was left as Rossi’s closest competitor and even found himself in the lead with two laps to go before the Italian got his nose back in front later on.
Pedrosa and Vinales were involved in a titanic battle for third, with the Honda man eventually claiming third, while Pol Espargaro was in fifth.
Dutch Grand Prix – June 26
After the race was stopped 12 laps in due to heavy rain, Australia’s Jack Miller became the first satellite rider to win a MotoGP this decade.
Earlier, Rossi slid out and into retirement while leading the race, and Lorenzo struggled to a disappointing 10th place. Marquez was able to claim a comfortable second, albeit without able to challenge Miller at the front.
Scott Redding broke clear of Pol Espargaro and Iannone upon the restart, and the trio finished in that order, with Redding claiming his first podium of the season.
German Grand Prix – July 17
Despite struggling in the wet early on, Marquez claimed his seventh successive win – across classes – at the Sachsenring to extend his lead at the top of the Riders’ Championship.
After crashing out, Marquez opted for his dry bike with 13 laps to go, and even though he found himself down in 14th, he was so much faster than the rest of the pack on their wet bikes, that he got his nose in front before the rest of the grid pitted on lap 23.
Rossi made an error in judgment and had to settle for eighth, while Lorenzo had a forgettable weekend and finished 15th.
With the two Yamahas out of the picture, Cal Crutchlow claimed a well-earned second ahead of Dovizioso, Redding and Iannone.