The MotoGP roadshow hits Phillip Island, east of Melbourne this weekend with local hope Jack Miller hoping he can build on a career-best season.
Queenslander Miller has three third-place finishes and sits eighth in the world championship heading into the Australian MotoGP.
His Pramac Racing Ducati has been competitive all year and his knowledge of the Phillip Island layout also gives him hope of a podium finish.
“With the form we’ve had this year I think we have a good chance of taking it up to the top guys,” Miller told AAP this week.
We’ll give it a go, it’s a place I love to come and ride at. I think it’s one of the best tracks on the calendar and, fortunately enough for me, it’s my home grand prix as well.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there. The weather’s not going to be ideal but there’s no point looking at the weather forecast here because if the wind changes we’ll have beautiful sunshine or it could be freezing cold.”
Miller has jumped out to early leads in his past two home races before falling to seventh on both occasions – his best finish at the famed island circuit.
The 24-year-old’s three podiums this season – in Austin, the Czech Republic and Aragon – and his efforts to regularly qualify on the first two rows of the grid have earned him a contract extension for 2020.
“It’s been a real boost for my confidence, I think next year I’ll just be stronger again,” Miller said.
“A few podiums have definitely helped our confidence grow as a team and I feel like I’m maturing as a rider as well.”
Spanish superstar Marc Marquez has already wrapped up this year’s world championship, claiming his eighth world title with a win on his Repsol Honda in Thailand.
If history is any guide, Marquez will either romp to his 11th win of the season at the Australian MotoGP or he won’t finish at all.
In seven starts at the Australian MotoGP, Marquez has won twice and crashed out or suffered a technical failure five times.
“The main target is to try to fight for the victory but it’s a circuit that you need to feel,” Marquez said.
“You need to feel that you can win because it has very high speed corners and this means a lot of risk.
“It’s a circuit that if you don’t feel it, it’s better to stay calm and to finish on the podium or to try to finish the race.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi is well off the pace in seventh, 205 championship points behind Marquez, but is hoping for a change in luck in his 400th race.
“It’s good to reach the 400 here in Phillip Island because it’s an iconic place for MotoGP,” Rossi said.
After making his debut in the 125cc class in 1996, the 40-year-old will reach the remarkable milestone at a race he has won six times.
“All the riders love the circuit because it’s something special compared to the rest – it’s one of the best places.
“We pray for a weekend with blues skies and fantastic temperature but unfortunately the good weather has arrived a little bit too early in anticipation of the weekend.
“So for sure we will have to fight with the difficult conditions at Phillip Island but its a pleasure anyway.”