Improved Honda makes Marc Marquez look a MotoGP banker
Inconsistent winter hampers Ducati
Qatar GP first practice
BT Sport 2, 11.45am Friday
Marc Marquez claimed his fourth world championship in five years at the final race of 2017 but there are reasons to think the Spanish marvel will have an easier ride to the title this season.
Marquez has won the last two championships despite the shortcomings of his machinery. However, pre-season testing indicates that Honda, for once, have got it right this time.
The bike has looked much more user-friendly and their engine is clearly delivering more power than in recent years.
Marquez had to overexert himself at times - he suffered 27 crashes during the year as well as some spectacular saves, including in the championship finale in Valencia.
Odds-on quotes might not seem generous but in Marquez's case it's easy to argue he should be much shorter.
Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso provided the biggest challenge last year, winning six races.
However, his new teammate Jorge Lorenzo improved throughout the year and could prove more of a handful this time.
The new bike, though, looks a step backwards and has been inconsistent during the winter with Lorenzo topping the times in Malaysia but languishing in 22nd in Thailand.
Yamaha faced a similar situation last year. After dominating the Qatar test Maverick Vinales won the first two races of the season but took only one more victory all year.
Valentino Rossi, perhaps in his last year, could produce some Sunday heroics but it is not a good sign that Johan Zarco, on a 2016-spec bike, often proved fastest of the Yamahas in testing.
M Marquez to win MotoGP riders championship
5pts 10-11 Sky Bet
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