A trio of Australian world championship motorcycle race-winners have declared this year‰Ûªs MotoGP‰ã¢ title battle between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo as too close to call.
Nine-time world champion Rossi leads Yamaha teammate Lorenzo by 14 points with four Grands Prix remaining in 2015, one of the quartet races coming at the Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island from October 16-18.
Speaking to the ‰Û÷Keeping Track‰Ûª podcast, Australia‰Ûªs 1987 500cc world champion Wayne Gardner, along with compatriots and MotoGP‰ã¢ race-winners Troy Bayliss and Chris Vermeulen, believe the battle for the championship will rage until the final race of the season in Valencia next month.
"I‰Ûªve been in this game 40-odd years, and I‰Ûªve never seen it so close before," Gardner said.
"If there were two different manufacturers and different bikes, you might be able to read it a bit better.
"I‰Ûªd like to see Jorge win because he‰Ûªs the most incredible rider in smoothness and talent, but you can‰Ûªt underestimate Valentino and the push in the last few races. It‰Ûªs really flip a coin on this one. I think it‰Ûªs going to be a nail-biter down to the last race."
Bayliss, who will host the Australian Motorcycle Finance Troy Bayliss Invitational GP flat track event to accompany next week‰Ûªs 16th round of the MotoGP‰ã¢ championship, feels the 36-year-old Rossi can secure his first MotoGP‰ã¢ title since 2009.
"Personally I‰Ûªd really like to see Valentino have a win as he‰Ûªs getting late in his career, and he‰Ûªs proved to everyone that he‰Ûªs still actually got it," Bayliss said.
"He‰Ûªs certainly on form, but it‰Ûªs not going to be easy for him."
Lorenzo has beaten Rossi 7-6 in the 13 races where both riders have finished this season, and Vermeulen believes that outright pace will see the Spaniard overhaul ‰Û÷The Doctor‰Ûª.
"When (Lorenzo) is dominant ‰Û_ he‰Ûªs been leading races from start to finish, and we have to expect another one or two of them this year. If you asked me to put my money on someone, I‰Ûªd say Lorenzo by the end of the season."
Vermeulen also assessed Jack Miller‰Ûªs maiden MotoGP‰ã¢ campaign, while Gardner spoke about the immediate future of his 17-year-old son Remy, who is competing in Moto3‰ã¢ this season.
For tickets, accommodation and more information on the 2015 Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, please go to www.motogp.com.au.