PHILLIP ISLAND: Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are fighting for second place in the MotoGP championship in Australia on Sunday as Marc Marquez basks in the glory of securing his third title.
Spanish Repsol Honda rider Marquez, 23, became the youngest to win three premier-class world championship titles with victory in last weekend's Japan Grand Prix, after Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both crashed out.
The victory gave Marquez an unassailable 77-point buffer in the standings with three races still to go, starting this weekend at Australia's Phillip Island, south of Melbourne.
"It's fantastic to arrive at Phillip Island with no pressure for the world championship, as the track is one of my favourites on the calendar," Marquez said.
"We'll try to win some more races before the end of the year as there are also the constructors' and the team titles still up for grabs."
Last year Marquez slipped past Lorenzo on the final lap to win a thrilling race in one of the greatest finishes in the sport's history.
Marquez, coming off pole, pipped his fellow Spaniard by just 0.249 seconds, but it was Lorenzo who went on to secure the world title.
The previous year Marquez crashed out on the 19th lap while leading from pole, and in 2013 he was disqualified after ignoring a mandatory pit stop.
Rossi, 37, has a great affinity with the island track and will be vying with his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo to finish runner-up in this season's championship.
LOSS OF FACE
The nine-time world champion has eight wins at Phillip Island, including five in his first five visits. He has finished on the podium 15 times in 19 trips to Australia across all three GP classes.
After his loss of face in Japan, the Italian legend will be aiming to bounce back and resume his on-track rivalry with Marquez.
"The bad thing is that we took zero points in Motegi, but the good thing is that we showed that we are strong," Rossi said.
"Phillip Island is a fantastic track and a place that I like a lot. We have to try to be fast and strong there too."
Lorenzo is another who has a good track record Down Under, with a win in 2013, a second place the following year and his desperately close runner-up finish to Marquez last year.
He trails Rossi by 14 points heading into the final three races of the season.
"It was a shame in Motegi, my crash and Vale's gave Marc the title but honestly he was the most consistent rider," Lorenzo said.
"Now we have to fight for the second position in the championship, though the important thing -- and why we are here -- is to be a champion."
Spanish Team Suzuki rider Maverick Vinales still has a chance of finishing in the top three in this year's championship and he needs a podium finish to further his claims this weekend.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa will miss the race following his horrific highside crash in Japan and subsequent collar-bone surgery.
American World Superbike Honda rider Nicky Hayden will stand in for Pedrosa this weekend.