After a four week break MotoGP returns this weekend for the first race of a triple header. The races in Indianapolis, Brno and Silverstone will take place back to back and will be critical in the race for the championship.
Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo both need to get back on to the podium after a three-race streak where neither has finished higher than fourth to stop Marc Marquez gaining a sizable championship lead.
The collarbone and shoulder injuries that caused this troubled run of form have had the whole summer break to mend so both riders should be in much better condition to take the battle to the ever improving Marquez.
However, in order to challenge Marquez, both Pedrosa and Lorenzo really need to be 100% and whether that will be the case in still in doubt. They were nowhere near Marquez at the last race at Laguna Seca.
Another obstacle blocking comebacks from the Spanish pair is that the podium battle are much more competitive than they were at the start of the season when it was basically an all-Spanish affair.
Cal Crutchlow has four podiums from the last six races, Valentino Rossi has three podiums in a row; and Stefan Bradl made the leap up after a mighty impressive performance at Laguna Seca.
It won’t just be the championship rivals hoping for more at Indy. Ducati have experienced a dismal first half of the season and are without a podium finish all season.
The disheartening thing for the team though is that no progress seems to be occurring and the team are nowhere near the Hondas and Yamahas. The fact that the next version of the Desmosedici that Ducati had been developing was turned away by their riders for being no better than the current version, is even more worrying.
Where Ducati has gone wrong nobody, not even their own engineers, can seem to tell and that isn’t very promising for their new signing, Crutchlow.
Next season Crutchlow will replace Nicky Hayden on the Italian bikes, having favoured riding a factory effort to a satellite one such as his current Tech 3 Yamaha.
Hayden never seems to have got any sort of handle on his Ducati, even back in 2009 when the team was a regular winner thanks to Casey Stoner. Three podiums in five years on the bike attest to that.
Let’s not forget even Valentino Rossi could only manage three podiums in his two year spell at the team. Whether Crutchlow can emulate Stoner rather than the string of failures will only be known next season, but more pertinently for him is probably whether or not he can get a win this year.
With a bike a couple developments behind Lorenzo’s, he would probably need the world champion to make an error or not be up to full fitness to be top Yamaha, but we’ve seen that he can beat Rossi fair and square.
He got beat by Marquez at the Sachsenring, but could Indianapolis be Crutchlow’s chance to take win number one?