Jorge Lorenzo, who could lose his MotoGP crown to rookie Marc Marquez in Australia this weekend, has praised the 'talented, fast, ambitious and brave' 20-year-old.
Marquez needs to score eight points more than Lorenzo this weekend to be confirmed as the first rookie premier-class champion since Kenny Roberts
Even if Lorenzo can thwart Marquez on Sunday, the reigning Moto2 champion will still have two further chances to claim the 2013 MotoGP title.
Lorenzo may have been unhappy with Marquez's on-the-limit riding style at times this year, due to safety concerns, but at Phillip Island on Thursday he spoke glowingly about the amazing rookie achievements of his fellow Spaniard.
“Obviously we have been watching one of the most incredible riders coming into a new category, in history: He is talented, fast, ambitious, brave,” Lorenzo said of Marquez. “He has all the conditions to be champion not only this year, but also more years.
“You need to have everything, all the cards in your hands, and he has also this. Good team, bike, sponsor. The tyres are more easy than before and everything together makes him so competitive.
“So it's him because he's a phenomenon, but also his tools are the best that he can have.”
Lorenzo and Marquez lit up last Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix with a thrilling duel over second place, before Lorenzo was forced to settle for the final podium position behind Marquez and race-winning Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Whilst he enjoyed the fight, this weekend Lorenzo “would prefer to have a race like Misano, to go away and win the race. It is funny to watch on television, after the race, a fight like [Sepang]. But obviously when you are on top of the podium - with your team cheering for you - it is a much better feeling.
“Let's hope to be fast enough to try to go away [this Sunday] and if it's not possible, try at least to fight with them [Hondas] on the last laps, which we couldn't do at Sepang.”
Lorenzo is 43 points behind Marquez with three rounds remaining, but eleven points ahead of Pedrosa.
Marquez has won six races so far this year - an all-time rookie record - with double champion Lorenzo, who broke his collarbone at Assen then re-damaged it at the Sachsenring, taking five victories.