Two wins, seven P2 finishes and two P3 finishes: that’s Valentino Rossi’s (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) premier class record at the Twin Ring Motegi and heading into this weekend’s Motul Grand Prix of Japan, ‘The Doctor’ is eager to find out if Yamaha have made a genuine step forward with the YZR-M1 after a successful Thai GP.
The nine-time World Champion secured a P4 finish in Buriram after having led the race, while teammate Maverick Viñales landed Yamaha’s first podium finish since the German GP in third. It was a welcome return to form for the Iwata factory, but can it continue on home soil?
“I come to Japan feeling quite optimistic that I can be strong here too,” confirms Rossi, who last won at the Twin Ring Motegi in 2008 – a race that saw him clinch an eighth World Championship. After crashing out on his last two visits to Japan though, the Yamaha rider will be looking to start the first of the three back-to-back races strongly on a track he likes:
“Usually Motegi is a good track for me, I like it. I hope it will be dry because last year was a nightmare, it was always wet. We'll see what happens at the upcoming three races, not just this one in Japan. If we really improved the bike last time round, we should be competitive at the next three GPs.”
An intriguing weekend awaits Rossi and Yamaha. Is a first win in 24 races on the horizon, or was Thailand a one-off? We don’t have to wait long to find out…