Upon announcing his impending retirement earlier this year, reigning world champion Casey Stoner made clear there are many things he won't miss about MotoGP next season.
But one thing he will look back on with pride is his battles with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
The trio raced together in the 125 and 250cc categories before reaching the premier-class - Pedrosa and Stoner in 2006, then Lorenzo in 2008. Lorenzo has been a factory Yamaha rider throughout, while Stoner left Ducati to join Pedrosa at Repsol Honda for the start of 2011.
The three have finished in the end-of-championship top four every year since 2008 and are the only riders to win races during the first ten rounds of this season. Fourth placed Andrea Dovizioso is over 50-points behind Stoner in the championship.
“I'm actually quite happy to have grown up and come through the different categories with these two,” said Stoner. “I've had a lot of great races with them over the years and I think our rivalry takes us to a very high level.
“Sometimes other riders are able to really stick it in there with us. Beat us. But we normally end up pushing each other to the front, and keep pushing each other further.
“I'm going to look back after all these years and feel proud I was at least part of it and the three of us, no matter what we're on and what day it is, are normally at the front pushing each other. The amount of podiums we've been on together, the three of us, is huge.
“I think it's a great rivalry. Started many, many years ago. I don't see any reason why it won't continue for the rest of this season, but it won't necessarily always be the same people at the front. I think other people will push through and mix the order up a bit.
“But Jorge finishing first or second in every race that he's finished this year has been a very impressive run and for sure he is going to be up front.”
Yamaha rider Lorenzo, who currently holds a 23-point lead over Pedrosa and 32-point advantage over Stoner, believes the experience of racing 125 and 250cc two-strokes has helped them dominate.
“I think we are very strong riders, with very high motivation,” he said. “In the smaller categories we were very fast and technical so with these bikes, that you must ride very smooth and be very sensitive with, now we are the strongest. Also we have very competitive bikes.
“So this year it is very difficult for the rest to beat us constantly.”
The only rider other than Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa to win more than one MotoGP race win since the start of 2008 is Valentino Rossi. The Italian has claimed 17 victories since that date but has been absent from the top step since Sepang 2010.