The 2022 MotoGP season is currently in its summer break and, with nine of the 20 races already run, there has been plenty of excitement and drama to review.
Three different winners in the opening three races of the campaign pointed to a tight tussle for the title, before reigning champion Fabio Quartararo won three of the next six Grands Prix to seemingly take charge in the standings.
However, the Frenchman crashed out of TT Assen last time out, allowing Aleix Espargaro to close the gap to 21 points, with the next race on the calendar the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday 7th August.
|What||British Grand Prix|
13:00, Sunday 7th August 2022
|How to watch||ITV, BT Sport|
The season opened in Qatar in early March and Italian Enea Bastianini took the chequered flag for Ducati, holding off the challenge of South African Brad Binder on his KTM.
On to Indonesia and Yamaha ace Quartararo appeared to have solved the problems which saw him finish way down in ninth place in Qatar as he claimed pole position at Mandalika.
However, rainy conditions made the race a tough one for all concerned and it was Miguel Oliveira for KTM who proved to be the master of those conditions, with Quartararo having to settle for second place.
On to Argentina and it was very much the Aleix Espargaro show at the Autodromo Termas de Río Hondo, as he claimed pole position, registered the fastest lap and took the chequered flag to win his first GP and give Aprilia their first victory of the MotoGP era.
Quartararo could only manage eighth place in Argentina and when he followed that up with seventh at the Grand Prix of the Americas - which was won by Bastianini - the alarm bells were well and truly ringing.
Quartararo finally took top spot on the podium in Portugal, coming through from fifth on the grid to win by more than five seconds from compatriot Johann Zarco.
The 23-year-old then claimed two second places and a fourth over the course of the next three races, which were won by the Italian duo of Ducati's Pecco Bagnaia (Spain and Italy) and Bastianini (France).
Quartararo returned to the winners' circle at the Catalan GP and was given a boost in the title race as Espargaro sat up when placed second, thinking that the race was over.
However, there was one more lap to complete and the crestfallen Spaniard had to settle for fifth place, admitting afterwards: "That's the only thing that I can say, sorry to my team. It's completely my fault."
That error was made worse two weeks later at the Sachsenring in Germany, as Quartararo dominated again to claim a third win of the season, with Espargaro ending in fourth place behind the Ducatis of Zarco and Jack Miller.
By now Quartararo was 34 points clear of Espargaro in the standings, but the final race before the summer break, TT Assen, would mark another change in fortunes.
Espargaro could only finish in fourth place in the Netherlands, with Bagnaia the winning rider, but Quartararo left with nothing thanks to two crashes - one with Espargaro - and the title gap was reduced to 13 points.
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Quartararo will no doubt be confident when the action resumes at Silverstone, having won there 12 months ago and the title race appears to be between the reigning champion and Espargaro - with Zarco some 58 points back in third place in the standings.
However, it is the rider in fourth, Bagnaia, who will be doing the most thinking during the time off.
He has matched the three wins of Quartararo so far this season, having ended the 2021 campaign with five poles and four victories in the last six races on the schedule.
However, four DNFs in 2022 have left the volatile and unpredictable Italian 66 points adrift of the pace being set by Quartararo and a tilt at the title looks a very distant prospect.
His last six results contain three wins and three failures to finish and that lack of consistency is not the stuff that championships are made of.
In 2021 he retired from just two races all season and came within 26 points of denying Quartararo a maiden MotoGP crown, but this time around he has almost certainly left himself with too much to do during the second half of the season.
Looking forward to the week ahead
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