JiR Team Scot's rookie Andrea Dovizioso needs to fend off a stiff challenge from Nicky Hayden - the rider he will replace at Repsol Honda next season - for fifth in the 2008 MotoGP World Championship standings.
Dovi heads into this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, round 17 of 18, a reduced 14 points in front of Hayden - having lost 20 points to the American during the last three rounds. Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards is just five points behind Hayden.
With fellow rookie Jorge Lorenzo 37 points in front of Dovi, the rookie of the year title is all but over, leaving fifth in the championship as a realistic target for the young Italian.
"We arrive at the last two races of the season and we will now have to grit our teeth to stay in the top five of MotoGP, which is our goal this season," said JiR team Scot director Gianluca Montiron. "The two long straights of Sepang often show the difference between factory and private race bikes. Andrea will have to dig deep into his wealth of talents to do well in these last two races. We feel he will and this will make the difference as he closes his first successful season in MotoGP."
Whilst Dovizioso enjoys the technical Sepang layout, he acknowledges the importance of straight line speed.
"Sepang is a very nice circuit, and I enjoy the Malaysia track very much and with the MotoGP bike it is really fun," he said. "The two straights are characteristic of the track, which require a high performance engine.
"I have already done tests here before the championship started, so I know what I will encounter and how to address this weekend of the race, which - even with our technical package - will be challenging. Let's hope we can aim for the good result which we deserve," added the Italian, who has finished in fourth position three times this season.