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Petronas Yamaha SRT's Valentino Rossi has outlined the upcoming run of European MotoGP™ rounds as crucial in showing whether or not he can be competitive in 2021. The premier class grid land in Portugal this weekend ahead of races at Jerez, Le Mans and Mugello over the coming weeks. They're all venues that The Doctor has enjoyed success at over recent years, and the nine-time World Champion admits he must raise his level at circuits "that are good for me".
The 42-year-old stole headlines on the opening weekend of 2021 by clinching an incredible fourth place during qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix. However, the Italian would then slump to 12th in the race before enduring a disastrous Doha Grand Prix that saw him suffer one of the worst qualifying results of his illustrious career. Despite finding "some new settings on the bike" in Sunday's Warm Up, which allowed him to "maintain a better pace", he failed to score a point.
It all means Rossi's season, for all intents and purposes, starts this weekend at the 888 Portuguese Grand Prix. Can he upset the odds and stand on the top of the podium at the 30th different circuit in his Grand Prix career?
"The Portimao circuit is fantastic," started The Doctor. "It’s something different to all of the rest, but on the other side of things, it's very difficult. It’s a track that you need a lot of time to learn and every time you race there you can improve on something.
"We found some new settings on the bike on the Sunday morning warm-up session of the DohaGP, which meant that I was able to maintain a better pace but we were hampered for the bad starting position.
"We hope that we can be stronger at this third GP and be more competitive, but also in Europe as a whole – there are a lot of tracks there that are good for me."
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