Marc Marquez rides during a practice session ahead of the Aragon Grand Prix on Friday. Photo: CFP
MotoGP world championship leader Marc Marquez is hoping home comforts can steer him closer to sealing a third world title when a wide-open season returns to Spain at the Aragon Grand Prix on Sunday.
Marquez is one of a record eight different riders to win the last eight Grand Prix and holds a comfortable 43-point lead over Italian rival Valentino Rossi with reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo 18 points further back.
The Honda rider's lead is thanks to a great start to the season as he only failed to make the podium once in the first nine races. However, Marquez's lead has been cut after finishing just fourth in his last two outings at the British and San Marino Grand Prix.
"We haven't lost too many points and we arrive in Aragon leading," the Spaniard said. "You always want to push and win, but sometimes it's not possible - like in Misano. Here we want to be on the podium as a minimum."
Marquez won in Aragon during his debut world championship winning season in 2013, but has suffered crashes in each of the past two years.
A repeat could open the door to Yamaha duo Rossi and Lorenzo to chip into Marquez's lead with just five races left.
"I've taken good points and tried to recover from some early mistakes, but the distance to Marc remains very big," said Rossi.
"The Doctor" is in the hunt for a 10th world championship across all categories, but Aragon is one of only two circuits on the MotoGP calendar where Rossi is still to win.
However, Rossi didn't rule out another surprise in an unpredictable season aided by rule changes to ensure greater parity between manufacturers.
"Eight winners is something that nobody expected, because recently in the last few years it's been more or less the same names at the top," he said.
"It's interesting for the championship and it's more difficult this year because the balance is bigger between the riders and bikes.
Lorenzo has been the man to beat in Aragon for the past two years and admits the Motorland track is "one of [his] favorite races."
"Over the last years we were able to win several times so you never know," he said. "I'm eager to fight on home soil and I will try to taste victory again."
Marquez's Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa will also be in the mix after registering his first win of the season two weeks ago.
Australian Jack Miller will miss the race as he continues to recover from injuries suffered in a high-speed crash at the Austrian Grand Prix last month, with 2006 American world champion Nicky Hayden returning to MotoGP to take his place.
In Moto2, defending champion Johann Zarco holds a slender three-point lead over Spanish rival Alex Rins.
Meanwhile, South African Brad Binder could wrap up the Moto3 title at the weekend with four races to spare if he maintains a huge 106-point lead over Enea Bastianini.