And suddenly every lap counts as the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season swings into its second half with races 7 and 8 of 13 contested this coming weekend in Brno, Czech Republic.
Every point is precious with Turkish newcomer Can Öncü heading the table on 107. Third year veteran Aleix Viu, the 16-year-old Spaniard, has 93 and the certain knowledge that he can't let his opponent, who just turned 14, add to his score of three wins from the last four races. The top step of the podium has escaped the Iberian since the Race 2 in Jerez.
Podiums and challengers
Viu is far from finished and was on the podium nine times last year when he finished second in the title chase. He has managed that four times already this season but will be happy for Brno's sunny weather forecast as he can't afford a repeat of the 15th he suffered in the soaking wet Race 1 at the Sachsenring.
While Viu may concentrate on beating Can Öncü they both have twin brother Deniz Öncü to look out for as he will be keen to celebrate his birthday with a second victory to match his first in Sachsenring 1.
Fast as well as consistent
Ever present on or near the podium has been Kazuki Masaki and the 16-year-old Japanese has three 3rds, a 2nd, a 5th and a 10th to his name in his first Rookies season. He lies 3rd in the title chase, 22 off the lead and has been the strongest Japanese since Ai Ogura broke his elbow in a non Rookies event. The 16-year-old has recovered and is back in Brno, looking to restart his Cup chase that began so brilliantly with a 2nd and a 4th in the opening round in Spain.
Unfortunately, missing four races has all but crippled Ogura's title aspirations as he has only 33 points, the same number as fellow injury returnee Filip Salač. The 15-year-old Czech started the year with a 4th and a 2nd then missed the same four races with a broken leg. Both are expected to pass the required doctors assessment on Thursday having been riding already.
A long way from over
There are others a lot closer to the leading trio in the points table and with 175 points still on offer to someone who can win the remaining seven races anything can happen. Italian 15-year-old Omar Bonoli is getting quicker and quicker in his third season and was a superb 4th in Race 2 in Germany, the same position he occupies in the points table.
Deniz Öncü is fifth, 2 points behind Bonoli and 59 shy of his brother's lead total thanks to his technical DNF in Sachsenring 2. He is 2 points ahead of Matthias Meggle, the fastest of the two Germans who has just turned 17, the same age as fellow countryman Kevin Orgis who is down in 9th place but does have the distinction of a podium finish thanks to his fine second in Race 1 at his home GP.
The Brno circuit is very different to Assen and the Sachsenring, a very wide track that offers a variety of lines and countless overtaking opportunities, it is a great venue to host the charge into the second half of the season.
This weekend's Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world. Race 1 is at 16.30 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.