While Marc Marquez will have his first chance to claim the MotoGP title at Phillip Island this weekend, Aleix Espargaro stands an even greater chance of wrapping up the privateer CRT class crown.
The Spanish rider is eleventh overall in the main championship, but with a 51-point advantage over his closest CRT rival Colin Edwards
he can complete a successful title defence merely by finishing ahead of the Texan in Australia.
“If you told me at the start of the season that we would arrive in Australia with the chance of wrapping up the CRT title I wouldn't have believed you,” insisted Espargaro, pictured with younger brother Pol.
“Myself and team are all very satisfied with the job we have done so far and we have had a great season but I just have the feeling that we could have done a bit better over the last few races and that we have the potential to run with the factory Ducatis.
“The Australian round is one of my favourites, we get to stay in a house with the team and it is just a wonderful country and circuit. Everything is there to make you feel happy and try your best on track to get the best result. It is one of the nicest weekends of the year so we are going there to enjoy it and to see if we can win the CRT title.
“Out of the three back-to-back races I think Phillip Island is the track most suited to the characteristics of our bike.”
Espargaro is yet to confirm his 2014 plans. The Spaniard has been pushing for an Aspar contract release to join the new Forward Racing Yamaha project, having stated that - while happy at Aspar - he wants to try another machine.
But with Aspar (and likely star signing Nicky Hayden) now seriously considering a switch to the Honda Production Racer - in the fallout of Gigi Dall-Igna's Aprilia departure - Espargaro would not need to leave Aspar to achieve his goal of a new machine...
Meanwhile, present team-mate Randy de Puniet
is just five points behind FTR-Kawasaki rider Edwards in the battle for second in the CRT standings.
“Phillip Island is a beautiful circuit, I love it,” said the Frenchman. “We went fast there last year and my feeling was fantastic so I hope to repeat this year. We developed a good feeling with the bike at the last race despite a few problems in qualifying so in Australia we will be working hard to have a normal weekend from Friday.
“If we make a good start in free practice then I am sure we can be ready for the race. At the moment I am five points behind Colin Edwards
for second place in the CRT championship so the objective is to get past him before the end of the season. We have three races left and we will give our maximum.”
The privateer 'claiming rule' is being dropped for 2014.