Andrea Dovizioso enters the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix as the new MotoGP standings leader, but Yamaha are hoping to ensure his stay at the top is a short one.
Yamaha showed impressive pace in the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano last week and riders are returning to the same venue for round seven.
Fabio Quartararo was unable to take advantage of his manufacturer's speed at the circuit last time around, as team-mate Franco Morbidelli became the fifth different race winner of an unpredictable season with defending champion Marc Marquez out injured.
Sunday's race begins at 14:00 local time (13:00 BST), with eight riders sitting within 23 points of Ducati star Dovizioso.
LAST TIME OUT
Yamaha dominated qualifying by locking out the first four places on the grid.
They converted that into three finishes in the top six, with Morbidelli's maiden MotoGP win added to by fourth place for Valentino Rossi and pole-sitter Maverick Vinales coming sixth.
But Quartararo, who started on the front row, suffered a crash and ultimately retired in a torrid afternoon that saw him lose the championship lead, finishing outside the top six for a fourth straight week.
There were impressive podiums for Francesco Bagnaia and Joan Mir, while a low-key seventh was enough to move Dovizioso to the top of the pile.
@AndreaDovizioso - 76 Pts— (@MotoGP) September 16, 2020
Best Finish: 1st (Austria)Cashed in at his strongest circuit in Austria and has limited the damage expertly at tracks less suitable to his GP20!With his long-time obstacle removed for now, this is his golden opportunity! pic.twitter.com/73W5Uk8nb5
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN MISANO
There is no rider who has recorded more than two podiums in the opening six races, with Quartararo struggling massively since winning the opening two events of 2020 and now looking to avoid back-to-back retirements for the first time in his MotoGP career.
The next few races in this middle section of the season are likely to determine who out of Dovizioso, Quartararo and the chasing back emerges to become true title contenders ahead of the final run-in, with the current picture still wide open.
Dovizioso, who will leave Ducati at the end of the season, is arguably the most consistent rider in the championship, but has raised doubts over whether he ultimately has the speed to challenge for the title. If the Italian can end this round still on top before moving on to more favourable circuits that would represent a good result given he has only finished on the podium twice in 13 Misano attempts.
Riders looking to maintain momentum include Suzuki Ecstar youngster Mir, who is on an impressive run of three consecutive top-four finishes, while the veteran Rossi has recovered nicely from a retirement in week one and sits level on points with factory team-mate Vinales.
@ValeYellow46 - 58 Pts— (@MotoGP) September 16, 2020
Best Finish: 3rd (Andalucia)Returned to the podium in Jerez and came within half a lap of another at Misano!Consistency and experience could prove invaluable as he chases title #10! pic.twitter.com/BDRgPWswIt
TOP FIVE OPTA STATS
Good race for Rossi - Aside from Marquez, Rossi is the only active rider to have reached three wins at the Misano circuit in MotoGP. He has finished on the podium in six of his 13 MotoGP races there, though has not done so in his last three outings, so may be due.
Moto joy for Morbidelli – The rising star has finished on the podium in two of his last four MotoGP races, having not recorded any top-three finishes in his first 37 premier class appearances.Pole not leading to wins – Vinales has had pole position in three of his last four appearances at Misano (2017, 2019 and 2020), but did not win in any of them (fourth, third and sixth). Indeed, the last 10 Misano races have seen the pole-sitter fail to win (Dani Pedrosa was the last to win from first on the grid in 2010).
Strong circuit for Yamaha – The manufacturer's triumph with Morbidelli last week means they have won 13 of the 24 races held at Misano.
Miller meagre in Italy – The Australian Jack Miller is third in the championship but must improve his record on Italian soil if he is to stay there. Miller has failed to surpass the sixth position in his 10 MotoGP races in Italy, five of them without collecting a single point.
1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 76
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 70
3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) 64
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 60
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 58
1. Petronas Yamaha 127
2. Monster Energy Yamaha 116
3. Ducati 101
4. Suzuki Ecstar 100
5. Pramac Racing 97