Casey Stoner has played down his chances of wrapping up the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, on his 26th birthday and in front of his home fans at Phillip Island in Australia on Sunday.
The Repsol Honda rider needs to score at least ten points more than Yamaha's reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo to claim his second world crown with two rounds to spare.
However Stoner insists his home title chances are "almost none" and is instead concentrating on winning the Australian round for a fifth year in succession.
“My chances of the Championship this weekend I think are very slim, almost none. For Jorge to finish fourth or worse, and then I have to try and win the race,” said Stoner, winner of eight races already this year.
“For me the most important thing is to actually win the race. It's a race I want to win. I wanted to win last time in Japan as well but wasn't able to, so I'll try to bounce back here.”
“It's a grand prix I always look forward to," he continued. "It'll be our first time here on the Honda and we'll see how we do. The last four years we've been very successful [with Ducati]... I think the bike can be working really well around here so hopefully we can put the package together and everything can go well.”
Lorenzo, a double 250cc race winner at Phillip Island but yet to score a premier-class victory 'down under', remains defiant.
“Of course we will fight to the end to try and avoid Casey taking the title for as long as possible!” he said. “It means we have to fight for the win every weekend which will be tough, this year has been tougher than ever, but we'll try.”
Lorenzo finished second to Stoner in last year's Phillip Island race, crossing the line 8.5sec behind the 2007 world champion.
First free practice for the 2011 Australian MotoGP takes place on Friday morning.