Reigning and soon to retire MotoGP champion Casey Stoner believes both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa would be worthy winners of the 2012 crown and that it's a case of 'best man wins'.
Yamaha star Lorenzo holds a shrinking 23-point advantage over Stoner's Repsol Honda team-mate Pedrosa heading into the penultimate round at Phillip Island this weekend.
Stoner, whose own challenge ended with ankle injuries at Indianapolis, said:
"The battle has been going on for a long time now. I'm sure it was disappointing for Dani to be taken out at Misano, but the same happened to Jorge at Assen.
"Really the best man wins. They've both won the same number of races now. They've both been extremely competitive this year. Whatever happens, happens at the end of the season.
"They've both gone forward, above and beyond everyone else. Honestly I have a huge respect for both of them and like I said, the best man will win."
Lorenzo previously won the MotoGP title in 2010, while fellow Spaniard Pedrosa is yet to win a premier-class crown.
"Yeah I have pressure, but I would have much more pressure if Dani had the same points as me - or was in front," said Lorenzo.
"I have an advantage of 23 points. Of course if I crash in Australia the situation will change, but I hope to be on the podium again."
Stoner, third in last Sunday's storm-shortened Sepang rain, will be chasing a sixth successive Australian Grand Prix win in front of his home fans this coming weekend.
"I really don't know what to expect," he said of the coming weekend. "We know we're not at 100 percent and to win at this level everything has to be close to 100 percent. I'm still not riding as free as I'd like."