Marc Marquez will begin his bid to win a fifth successive MotoGP title when the 2020 season belatedly begins at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.
The campaign had been set to start in Qatar in March but travel restrictions affecting passengers from Italy amid the coronavirus pandemic led to the race being cancelled and the season put on hold.
With another eight grands prix scratched from the initial schedule, just 13 races remain on a calendar that includes four double-headers.
The first of those comes at the Circuito de Jerez, with the opening race on Sunday starting at 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT), before the Red Bull Ring, Misano, Aragon and Valencia also host two races, while events in Thailand, Malaysia and Argentina remain in limbo.
LAST TIME OUT
Marquez wrapped up his fourth straight MotoGP title and sixth in seven years with success at the Valencia Grand Prix.
With Ducati duo Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso crashing out of the finale, the Spaniard's victory ensured Honda topped the standings in the rider, team and constructor categories.
After announcing his retirement in the build-up to the race, three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo – Marquez's team-mate – finished 13th. However, he returned to Yamaha for a testing role and is expected to take part in the Catalan Grand Prix as a wildcard entry.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SPAIN
Marquez has dominated the sport in recent years and will be looking to kick off his hopes of emulating Valentino Rossi, Mick Doohan and Giacomo Agostini by topping the standings for a fifth straight year with success.
His brother and Alex Marquez won the Moto2 title last season and will make his MotoGP debut with Repsol Honda this weekend.
However, he will be replaced in 2021 by Red Bull KTM rider Pol Espargaro, who will be keen to make an impact after his switch was announced earlier this week.
After impressing last year and being name Rookie of the Year, Fabio Quartararo – who will replace Rossi at Monster Energy Yamaha next year – has been given a factory-spec Yamaha for 2020 and will be out to end Marc Marquez's stranglehold over the series.
Quartararo and his future team-mate Maverick Vinales were quicker than the reigning champion during testing in Jerez on Wednesday.
Andrea Dovizioso, another title hopeful, was passed fit for the race despite undergoing collarbone surgery last month, while Rossi and Cal Crutchlow will be keen to perform well with their futures uncertain.
TOP FIVE OPTA STATS
Rossi to end barren run? – No rider has won the Spanish Grand Prix more times than Rossi (7) but is facing the possibility of failing to get a podium in this race for the fourth straight year, which would be his worst run at the track.
Double digits – Spanish riders have won nine of the previous 12 Spanish Grands Prix in MotoGP, with Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez claiming three apiece.
Marquez out for more home success – In the 2019 season, Marc Marquez won all four races in Spain for the first time in his career.
Dovi hat-trick? – Dovizioso has won the opening MotoGP race in each of the past two seasons, but he has never had a podium in the premier class in Jerez.
Ducati drought – Since Loris Capirossi's Spanish Grand Prix success in 2006, no Ducati rider has won the race.