The pressure will be well and truly on for Marc VDS Moto2 racer Franco Morbidelli this weekend as he goes into the Japanese Grand Prix 21 points ahead of Thomas Luthi with only a hundred points left to play for this year.
Yet despite the pressure, the Italian-Brazilian racer says he’s not treating the weekend any differently from any other weekend so far this season.
"We're heading into a key part of the championship; with three races in three weekends where anything can happen. The championship is obviously our priority, but so is continuing in the way that's been so successful for the team and me this season. Yes, I could go into the next four races with the aim of riding cautiously just to pick up points, but that's not my way and that wouldn't be working to our strengths.
“This year we've been strongest when fighting at the front of the race so, if it's possible to win in Japan, then I will push to the maximum to win. If it's not possible to win then that's a different scenario and picking up maximum points will be important, but this is something we won't know until we line up to race on Sunday."
But he should have the benefit of a strong teammate this weekend thanks to the return to fitness of Alex Marquez on the other side of the box. Struggling last time out thanks to injuries sustained in Misano, he’s hoping the championship’s two-week break means that he’ll be feeling fitter.
"I had more problems in Aragon with the injured leg than I was expecting, with the inflammation and pressure on the sciatic nerve forcing me to retire early from the race. My subsequent recovery wasn't as quick as I was expecting either but after almost three weeks my physical condition is definitely better. I'm still not 100% but I'm a lot closer to full fitness than I was in Aragon. Only when I get back on the bike in Motegi will I understand fully my condition and what is possible in terms of results. Even so, I head to Japan fully motivated and, if my condition is good, determined to reclaim third place in the championship standings."