MotoGP: Can anyone stop Marquez?

Rossi Marquez Qatar

Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez appears almost unstoppable at the moment.

The 2014 campaign resumes in France this weekend where the Spanish rider will be looking to make it five wins from five in 2014. After his dominant victory last time out at Jerez, few would bet against it.

The 21-year-old Honda ace has been in ominous form, winning every race from pole to open up a 28-point championship lead.

“We know that Dani, Jorge and Valentino will come back at us hard here,” said Marquez ahead of the event. “But we will work on our own programme - as usual - and fight for victory or at least some important championship points.”

However given his recent run it’s unlikely Marquez is targeting anything less than top spot in Sunday’s race.

His team-mate Dani Pedrosa currently sits second in the standings having collected podiums at all four rounds. However the 28-year-old underwent an operation on his right forearm during the break between races; though this won’t stop him competing at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit the Spaniard may still be feeling the short-term effects of surgery.

That could leave it up to Yamaha team-mates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo - both three-time winners of the French Grand Prix - to take the fight to Marquez.

Having made a stronger-than-expected start to the season Rossi will be hungry for more in France. With two second-placed finishes he appears to have rediscovered at least some of the old magic, and the seven-time champion is so pleased that he’s now keen to extend his MotoGP career by a further two seasons."

"Last year for me there were some good races and also one victory, but especially in the second part of the season I was a bit too far from the top three," the 35-year-old said this week.

"I wanted to see if this year was better and immediately I felt better. I’ve enjoyed working with Yamaha and my team, so my project is to make another contract for two seasons.

Lorenzo meanwhile has not enjoyed a great start to 2014, which has included a jump-start in Austin that he blamed on mosquitoes on his visor. Just one podium from four rounds has left him fifth in the standings, and the two-time champion knows he’ll need to beat Marquez this weekend to retain serious hopes of recapturing the title.

But ultimately, the advantage held by the Honda riders could make a full-blooded Yamaha challenge in France difficult.

Meanwhile Briatin’s Cal Crutchlow will be hoping to kick-start his season after a frustrating start to life with Ducati. A crash in Austin left the 28-year-old with hand injuries that kept him out of the Argentine Grand Prix, while brake problems forced his exit at Jerez. Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso has fared better, grabbing a podium in Austin and currently splitting the Yamaha boys in the standings.

Sunday’s race takes place on the Bugatti Circuit, a ‘track within a track’ that combines part of the much longer Le Mans 24 Hours circuit with purpose-built sections.