Fabio Quartararo is enthused by the prospect of a MotoGP title battle with his former team-mate Joan Mir as he looks to extend his championship advantage on home soil this weekend.
Going into the French Grand Prix, just eight points separate Quartararo – the winner at the Catalan Grand Prix last time out – with his nearest challenger Mir, who was second in Barcelona.
Four years ago, the riders were team-mates for Leopard in Moto3 and they moved up the ranks together, both debuting in the premier class last year.
Quartararo likes the story and is relishing the challenge of going up against Suzuki Ecstar rider Mir over the final weeks of the season.
"For sure, we are in a much better position now because that year for me was a total disaster," Quartararo said, per Motorsport, about the 2016 campaign.
"So, that's great that we kept our relationship since then and right now we are 1-2 in the championship. Last year we were rookies and now we are there to fight for the championship, so it is a cool story."
Mir is also relishing the battle, saying: "It is so nice. I remember that year really well, because it was not easy at the beginning of the year.
"It was my first year in the world championship and we both struggled a lot for half of the season. Then it was a bit better and in the end my season was not bad for the first one.
"But it is nice that now both of us we are fighting for the championship and I'm really happy."
Quartararo is hoping to become the first home rider to win the French Grand Prix since Jacques Collot in 1958.
With three victories, he has already equalled the total wins recorded by all other French riders combined in MotoGP history.
Mir, meanwhile, has three podiums in a row for the first time in MotoGP, a personal record he will look to extend on Sunday.
He has racked up 100 points in the eight races held in 2020, more than in 17 races last year in his rookie season (92).
MILLER SETS PRACTICE PACE
Quartararo had a quiet day at Friday practice, with Pramac Racing's Jack Miller setting the fastest time amid difficult track conditions.
Maverick Vinales was 0.144 seconds behind Miller in FP2, with third-place man Takaaki Nakagami more than half a second back.
Danilo Petrucci and Cal Crutchlow were fourth and fifth, with Repsol Honda's Alex Marquez impressing to take sixth.
Quartararo and Mir finished FP2 11th and ninth respectively as conditions dried after a cold and wet first session.
FP1 had been topped by Bradley Smith, who then had a big highside in FP2 and required a medical check-up.
Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso was another rider to go down in the second session, as did with Nakagami and Brad Binder.