Dani Pedrosa may be able to upset favourites Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner in the German Mot GP on Sunday.
Last weekend in Assen the bookies, the press and even Cal Crutchlow had Jorge Lorenzo as a lock for the win. Enter Alvaro Bautisto.
Had Jorge won last Saturday, as expected, he would've had at the very least, a thirty point lead in the title. But since Bautista left his brain on the start line as he barreled through turn one around 50mph quicker than would seem sensible, he took out Lorenzo and hit the championship reset button. Casey Stoner took the win and is now level on points with Lorenzo. We're back to square one.
No-one, not even Stoner as he later stated, wanted to see the championship back to level pegging in such a manner, but that's racing. And so here we are in Germany, with both Stoner and Lorenzo are limping from Assen accidents.
Sadly, the weather hasn't wanted to play nice. Whilst everyone at Silverstone F1 is renting SCUBA gear for the weekend, the weather at the Sachsenring can't decide what to do. It's been half wet and half dry for most of the week all of which means no-one has had much useful track time to sort anything out. Stoner, Lorenzo and Crutchlow didn't even bother going out on track this morning.
As such the markets have had to rely on current form to set the early prices. Lorenzo is a favourite at 2.56 with Stoner at 2.96. Stoner may have got back on terms in Assen, but we have to be realistic about it. Without Bautista's torpedo attack, it was Jorge's race to lose. He's still the man in form, on the best bike in the field.
Sachsenring is a track he's never won at, in any class, however. He'll be keen to reaffirm that he's the man on form by breaking that duck on Sunday. He's limping quite badly following some ligament damage obtained in the crash at Assen but has said it's much more of a problem walking than it is riding the bike. Whether that's still the case after 30 laps remains to be seen.
Stoner likewise doesn't have the greatest record here. He has just the one win, back in 2008, and a few thirds but the rest of the time he's finished off the podium. This is the time he needs to attack though and really seize on the advantage he gained at Assen. The lower temperatures should help with the chatter and tyre problems Honda's struggled with all year and I'd have him and Lorenzo on equal footing for the race.
But I think the man to beat this weekend will be Dani Pedrosa. He's been quick in all conditions so far and he has an excellent record here. Five wins across all classes including the last two years pretty dominant fashion. My mail is that he's just signed a two year extension with Honda this so he needs to repay their ongoing faith in him with a win soon. He's been consistent in 2012, but without a win and this is the perfect opportunity to set that right. At 4.5 he's easily the best value bet in the field. He's got Stoner's measure at this track, if not many others, and we just don't know how much Jorge's injury will affect him over full distance.
Lorenzo has an incredible ability to ride around pain and injury so it's hard to see anyone other than the big three getting up for a podium spot under normal circumstances. However, with rain more than likely, or even a flag to flag race in changing conditions not out of the question, quite literally anything it is possible. If the race looks like being wet throughout, the 3.0 on offer for a Top 3 result for Valentino Rossi is well worth a look. No-one knows why that Ducati works wonders for Rossi in the wet and yet he struggles to crack the top ten in the dry, but that's the situation right now. Second in the wet in France, and topping the wet practice sessions in Silverstone added further evidence.
So Sunday's race looms as either weather induced chaos or a likely encore of The Dani Pedrosa Live in Germany Show of previous years. But as we saw last week, there's no such thing as a sure bet this year so long as people are still changing up gears while everyone else is braking into turn one...