With a 50 point MotoGP World Championship lead heading into this weekend's Indianapolis round, Valentino Rossi has his MotoGP title rivals on the ropes.
Just 28 points had covered Rossi, Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and Ducati's Casey Stoner after nine rounds, but the last two events have seen a drastic swing in favour of the Italian.
5-1 finishes for the reigning six time MotoGP champion at Donington Park and Brno handed Rossi 36 points, compared with 0 for Lorenzo - who crashed out of the lead in both races - and 2 points for Stoner, who gambled on wet tyres at Donington Park, then withdrew from the next three rounds to try and shake off his energy-sapping illness.
All of which means that Rossi has a two-race lead over Lorenzo at the head of the standings, with only six rounds to go. And with Stoner a non-starter until at least October's Estoril event, a 'virtual' third place in the championship is Honda's Dani Pedrosa, 77 points behind Rossi.
“As I said in Brno, it would be stupid for us to relax and consider the championship won, anything can happen and we know that Lorenzo will be very strong this weekend and determined to make up for the last two races. We must keep focused,” said Rossi, ahead of the Indy round.
Rossi won last year's inaugural race at the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, being credited with a 5.9sec advantage over Nicky Hayden by the time the race was stopped eight laps early due to the tail-end of Hurricane Ike lashing the circuit.
“2008 in Indy was something special because it was the first time we had been there and it is definitely the most famous racetrack in the world,” said Rossi, a five time 2009 race winner.
“We didn't really know what to expect but our bike worked very well and we were fast from the start, in the wet and the dry. Every year is a different story however so we won't know where we are until we start our work on Friday afternoon.
“Last year I had a great win but, like everyone, I really hope that was the only hurricane we ever have to race in and that this time the conditions are more 'normal'!” he added.
On Saturday night Rossi will make a special appearance at the Indy Mile, the world-famous dirt-track event that takes place just a few miles away from the MotoGP event.