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Valentino Rossi raring to race

Valentino Rossi raring to race

Valentino Rossi raring to race

Valentino Rossi admits he is relishing the opportunity to go racing again after a long winter of public appearances and tests. In recent weeks the World Champion has worked intensively on the chassis setting of his 2005 YZR-M1 in order to make it as agile as last year's machine and, after experiencing some initial problems, the Jerez tests confirmed his rapid progress as he steadily worked towards a succession of highly-promising lap times on race tyres.

"I'm happy at last to have finished testing and to be going racing," says Rossi. "We've done so many kilometres with the bike and on planes that it already feels like the middle of the season! We've got a new bike and some things are very different to the old M1 so we've needed this development time. We've made some mistakes along the way but overall we've done some good work and I think we are ready to race now. I'm confident about the first race."

Rossi has a stronger record at Jerez than any other rider, winning here on no fewer than five occasions in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP classes. However, the Italian admits he has a score to settle after a disappointing race last year, when heavy rain hindered his chances of finishing any higher than fourth place after qualifying in pole position.

"Jerez is one of my favourite tracks. It suits my riding style well; it's technical and difficult, with long, fast corners where the line is very important, and hard braking. I made a lot of kilometres here on the 125 and 250 bikes when I was younger and I almost always have a good race here. However after last year I have an account to settle with the circuit! I was very fast in the dry, with pole position, but then the rain ruined it on race day - I hope this year it will stay dry."

After taking the title in his first season with Yamaha, Rossi is now faced with perhaps the even bigger challenge of defending his crown with his rivals knowing exactly what to expect from the first race. "For sure this will be a very hard fight this year," he admits. "Last year we surprised everyone and they didn't expect us to win immediately. This year everyone will be trying to arrive in front of us from the first race. I think that Gibernau will be my closest competitor again but there are a lot of fast riders and it will be a big battle!"

"To start the championship in Jerez is great for the fans and for sure there will be a big, big party for everyone. The fans that come here are amazing and I also hope for them that it doesn't rain!"


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