Sharks may surround the Phillip Island grand prix circuit but MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi
is starting to feel as though sharks are circling even closer to home.
With three rounds remaining, reigning six time MotoGP champion Rossi has seen his title lead slashed to 18 points by Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who dominated the previous race in Estoril while Rossi sunk to fourth with grip problems.
Rossi finished a massive 23 seconds behind Lorenzo - the largest margin Rossi has ever finished behind a team-mate in a MotoGP race which he has not crashed and re-mounted in.
After the race, Rossi confessed that his young rivals are circling like sharks, waiting for him to show weakness. As well as Lorenzo, Rossi named 2007 world champion Casey Stoner
as ready to bite.
Stoner made a dramatic return to finish second in Estoril after missing the three previous races with a mystery virus. The Ducati star has won his home race for the past two years and few would rule out three in a row for the #27 this weekend.
A less threatening figure is that of Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, who's fighting to hang onto third place in the championship from Stoner. The fast-starting Repsol Honda rider was injured on lap one at Phillip Island last year and has only taken one victory this year, but Pedrosa is hard for even Rossi to contain when he's at his best.
But Rossi won five premier-class races in a row at Phillip Island from 2001-2005 and 'loves' the high-speed seaside circuit. Eagar to avoid the risk of a last round title showdown, the kind of scenario that went against him in 2006, Rossi is looking to Phillip Island and the following Malaysian round to clinch his ninth world crown.
Andrea Dovizioso, Pedrosa's team-mate, is fifth in the championship and a previous 125cc winner while Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards
will aim to use his wealth of experience in both MotoGP and Superbike at the track to bridge the eight point gap to Dovi.
Rizla Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi
hates being called a veteran, but it was 19 years ago he became the youngest ever world champion when he won the 125cc race at Phillip Island. He repeated his win a year later. It will be a sad day for his team-mate Chris Vermeulen
who makes his last Suzuki MotoGP appearance at his home track before switching to World Superbikes next year.