Valentino Rossi starts the European MotoGP season still chasing his first win of the year, having finished second to Casey Stoner in Qatar and his own Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in Japan last weekend.
Now he is gunning for his sixth victory in the top class at Jerez on Sunday, he told the press why he is looking forward to racing at one of his favorite tracks again and why he has no qualms about taking the fight to Lorenzo if he has to.
Q. For some people this is the 'real' start of the season, this is such a big grand prix for you isn't it.
Valentino Rossi: I agree because Jerez is always fantastic. The track I like a lot but the atmosphere around the circuit is completely different compared to Qatar and Motegi. We hope also the weather will be different because we fight a lot against the water in the first two races! This time the forecast is okay, so it is possible to make a normal weekend, because the first two races of the season were very strange. Qatar, and also Motegi, it was difficult to work with the bike together with the new rules with less time on the track.
So the test here was okay, I won a lot of times on this track and had big battles with Sete (Gibernau) and others. I think it is possible to do a bit better than the first two races, but anyway 40 points is so important, we are close to the top and we are happy with our performance.
Q. You haven't won a race, but you are right in there as we come into Europe. That's very important isn't it?
VR: Yes. Taking 40 points in the first two races is crucial for the championship, because of the strange situation. We have tried to make the best of it. I preferred the Motegi race compared to Qatar because I was just 1.3s behind the victory and it was a better fight and better to enjoy. In Qatar I was all alone in the race, in the night, so it was quite scary!
For sure Jorge and Dani will have extra motivation in front of all their fans, but we try to fight.
Q. You said in Japan, probably four people can win the championship this year. That's good isn't it?
VR: Yes. I am in a good shape, Yamaha is so competitive and we work well with the team. I assumed already that Jorge, with more experience on the Bridgestone tyres, would come back and fight for victories. Stoner is always impressive and strong and Dani (Pedrosa) demonstrated in Japan that if his knee is fit then it is possible to battle every Sunday for the championship. So I think it will be very interesting going to the end.
Q. We hear you are coming to the TT in the Isle of Man this year, what do you make of that?
VR: Dainese organised it for me. For the motorcycle fan it is great to go to the TT one time to understand it. It is like something unreal when you see it on the television so I am very curious to understand it live, and what it means to be there.
Q. If you find yourself going into the last corner fighting for the lead with your team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, like you did racing against Sete in 2005, would you make the same manouvre?
VR: With Sete, that race was unforgettable from the first lap we start to fight, but especially the last lap and a half it all happened. I was able to overtake on the last time and I took a small advantage but I made a small mistake on the back straight. Sete came back on me and we nearly touched at the hairpin before two or three overtakes to the last hairpin so it was not just one braking (manouvre). It was a very hard fight.
If with Lorenzo it happens the same, then..... Yes.
I want to say that time with Sete, I didn't enter in the corner to touch him. I entered to try and overtake and win the race, but unfortunately Sete doesn't crash and anyway he finished second.
But anyway we are ready for a battle and we wait for the battle and if it's possible for a race with a rival at the same level like that time with Sete with three or four overtaking in the last lap. It was great. In the last lap - it was great. I think it was our sport. If you look at the races of ten years ago it happened 100 times in one race. I like to run like this. Sometimes you win sometimes you lose.