Sepang, November 2: It is almost time for the penultimate race weekend of the FIM MotoGP World Championship season in the Malaysia Grand Prix.
Before the battle commences on Friday (November 2), the pre-event press conference gathered reigning champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), two-in-a-row Sepang winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Phillip Island winner Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and home hero Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) together to talk about the weekend ahead - and debrief Phillip Island a little.
Time for Malaysia
Marquez, who failed to finish in Australia after an incident with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), spoke about his bad luck at Phillip Island, which always seems to hit after a title win at Motegi...
"If it's a coincidence after I win the title in Motegi, then it's ok to continue like this! It was a strange crash, he didn't stop the bike and I was a little bit wide. He apologised but it was a racing incident, now it's time to think about Malaysia.
The victory in Malaysia is something that's belonged to Dovizioso for the past two years, and he's eager to repeat it. The Italian also spoke about some good omens from Phillip Island.
"We've proved our improvement this year in the second half of the Championship and the confirmation was in Phillip Island," said 'DesmoDovi'.
Vinales is back on the top step in Australia for the first time since Le Mans 2017 and all eyes are on the Yamaha rider as well.
"We enjoyed it a lot with the team and it's been a long time since we enjoyed a dinner like that! I think now we can do even better because we're more relaxed and let's see if that can help us to improve, and help Yamaha."
On a roll
Iannone, who is on a roll and took second in Phillip Island - after a more difficult time at times, also sounded upbeat
"Sometimes we lose motivation when it's difficult, but step by step and with hard work we've recovered and got very close to the top manufacturers and top riders. I've got my motivation back and want to continue like this.
Lorenzo, meanwhile, isn't expecting quite the same. He was on top in testing at Sepang and second last season, but he's coming back from injury this year and he's not setting a target as yet - just getting through the weekend better than Japan.
"I feel better than in Motegi some weeks ago, that's for sure, the operation went well and I feel stronger and more powerful," explained the Ducati rider.
That battle for Rookie of the Year is still wide open, the fight for second and third overall is wide open and the Constructors' crown isn't decided yet either - tune in for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix this weekend for another Sepang stunner!
(With a special arrangement from Dorna Sports)