By Lisa Crouch
With just two races left in the 2011 MotoGP season, Repsol Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso are in close contention for third in the standings.
Although second place Jorge Lorenzo was sidelined by injury in Australia and absent from this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, Dovizioso would need to win both remaining races - with no points for Lorenzo in the Valencia season finale - to take second from the Spaniard.
The fight for third is much closer, with former double 250cc champion Pedrosa - who missed three races through injury - trailing Dovizioso by just four points.
Pedrosa is hoping that his past successes at Sepang, a circuit he did not race at last year due to a collarbone injury, will spur him on to great things this year.
“Sepang is a circuit I like and where we have had good results in the past," he said. "I won in 125cc and 250cc, but not yet in MotoGP and this is very good motivation for me. I really want to do two very good races and finish the season the best way possible.”
Tech 3-bound Dovizioso believes he has a shot of winning in Malaysia, a feat he has never achieved before in any class.
The former 125cc championship winner is feeling confident that he can perform well enough over the final two races to cement his third place as the season draws towards it's conclusion.
“Malaysia is one of my favourite tracks, so I really want to get there and push 100% to try to win this race. The last two races are very important; I will fight to retain third in the Championship even though I know Dani and some other riders will also be hard to beat.”
The Italian rider's confidence will have been boosted by finishing ahead of Pedrosa in Phillip Island, Dovizioso placed on the podium in third while Pedrosa had to settle for fourth.
Their battle resumes this weekend when practice for the penultimate Grand Prix of the season begins on Friday.