Valentino Rossi was the focal point of a teleconference last Friday at Estoril where he gave his views on the return of MotoGP to American soil for the first time in 10 years, when the 2005 U.S. Grand Prix takes Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by storm on July 8-10.

The Italian six-times world champion discussed his expectations ahead of the event, plus his future in MotoGP, the pressure of winning the title in Yamaha's 50th anniversary year, the changes made to his YZR-M1 for this season, the importance of his crew chief Jerry Burgess and more...

Q:
I', wondering if you have begun to familiarise yourself with the track layout at Laguna yet by playing the PlayStation game or anything like that?

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Valentino Rossi:
Yes, yes I know Laguna only from TV. But now I make playing with the PlayStation and more or less I know the layout, but never been in Laguna before.

Q:
Looking at your website you mention several things about the four-wheel guys and you've talked about your four-wheel career. Maybe rallying is in your future? Are there any more steps made to run some world championship events before you move there entirely.

Valentino Rossi:
I don't have an official web site so, unfortunately, what is on the internet I don't know. But anyway, I think the next year race anyway with the MotoGP, with the bikes, and after I decide if in the future I race with cars or not. I didn't decide yet but anyway the cars are my great passion after the bikes so maybe possible.

Q:
From watching the videos of Laguna Seca do you feel that the race will be difficult? Do you think the track will be difficult to learn or no problem?

Valentino Rossi:
Yes, I think the track is difficult because it goes up and down a lot and I think it is quite technical and has some very difficult point the first left after the straight and the Corkscrew. For sure, in MotoGP it (the Corkscrew) will be interesting.

There is a change of direction, then it is very much downhill so it is very technical and difficult. I hope they make all the works in Laguna for improve the safety because in the past that was not very safe. But anyway they make all the more changes for the Grand Prix. Thank you.

Q:
Valentino you might be tired of this subject but I understand you received a letter from Mr. Zerbi of the FIM about the incident at Jerez and as I understand this letter it basically said you didn't do anything wrong but don't do it again. What was - what was your response to the letter?

Valentino Rossi:
Well yes, I received the letter from the president (Francesco Zerbi) and basically I agree, it say everyone want to win and everyone try very hard for arrive at the victory. And he say that the overtake was hard but not over the limit. He say not, "don't do it again", but "don't make worse." But if I have the same space in the last corner of the next race, I make the same (move).

Q:
Question in Italian.

Valentino Rossi:
I'm very happy to come to California. I have been in the U.S. five or six years ago but only for one week. Everyone here I expect love to come in California because it's for sure a very good place. And lot of people say the fans of MotoGP become more and more in the last year in the U.S. because they have a lot of American riders and our sports become always more bigger. So I expect a lot of fans for the race and I am very happy to come in California for the sun, the beautiful girls, and I think it is a good place.

Q:
You say you are very excited about racing in America, are you more excited about coming to America than going to race in China or race in Turkey?

Valentino Rossi:
I have never been in China and Turkey - I don't know. Anyway we go in a lot of different place, the importance is the track safety - that it is good - and the weather is good, for sure. But anyway I think it is more exciting to come to the U.S. because Laguna is also in a very good place. Speaking with Colin (Edwards), he say it's very good place to be. So China and Turkey is new for everybody, we are waiting before we say something.

Q:
No one expected you to win the championship (last season), so I imagine the pressure was very low and you won the championship. This year everyone expects you to win again and also it's Yamaha's (50th) anniversary, do you feel the pressure is very high this year?

Valentino Rossi:
Last year for sure, everyone expect me not to win the championship. But after some races, there was some pressure because we understand that we were able to fight for the championship. For sure, this year we start from the number one and the pressure is more. But it is lot of time that I have this pressure and more or less it is every year the same about the pressure. The important thing is to work, stay quiet, work well on the bike and try to ride the bike to find the good setting... because you have 17 races it is quite tough for everybody. Sometimes the pressure is that.

Q:
And one last question, how important has Jeremy Burgess (Rossi's crew chief) been to the success of your career?

Valentino Rossi:
Jeremy Burgess is very important. All the team, all the guys, I think this is one of the best teams in the world, if not the best team in the world. I improve a lot working with Jeremy. He has great, great experience working with a lot of riders.

I like especially the way he works. He is always very quiet. He is quiet when things go okay and also quiet when we have a problem. So it is important, is very important for me, and I have the idea to bring him with me to Yamaha, and for sure was a great idea for that.

Q:
How much of a disadvantage will it be to have no previous racing experience at Laguna Seca and how much will you rely on your team mate Colin Edwards for advice on how to approach the track?

Valentino Rossi:
For sure I never been to Laguna is a little bit of disadvantage because some other riders have already seen the track. But it is a new track and I think we will be able to make some practice on Thursday (There will not be a Thursday practice).

Yes, a new track is always more difficult to set the bike, but we will see. About Colin, Colin is always very fast at Laguna and has the extra motivation for his home grand prix. So we will work to fight together to arrive in front.

Q:
Are you going to be drawing from Colin or are you both pretty much going to go out, do your own set up and then share information.

Valentino Rossi:
We really try to work together with Colin to set the bike because it is very difficult, especially at the beginning, so as two maybe we are faster than one. Colin knows the track very well. I think we speak together or we go out together during the practice.

Maybe at the beginning it is better to go alone and maybe share information after some practice when the setting on bikes become better. Perhaps, I can get some secrets from Colin on the track, from following him.

Q:
I'd like to know what kind of changes you've made to the bike this year in further developing it with respect to the bike as it was in Philip Island or last year where you seemed to have a sweet-spot with respect to the handling and the power delivery and the performance of the big-bang structured motor.

Valentino Rossi:
Yeah, the bike is quite different from last year, especially the amount of work on the engine because then we were at the end of the development. So we make a lot of work on the new engine to make it have more power, because to increase the power it is very important.

Second, the chassis is also different compared to the old M1, because the old M1 we had some problem of stability, especially with the rear part of the bike. We fixed this problem, but we find some other problem. At this point, we don't understand it 100% the perfect setting. We had good experience with the old bike, but I think this (new) bike is good.

Q:
Regards to technical tracks, have you found yourself having to take a little more time to get used to them or do you acclimate to them as easy as you do on the non-technical tracks.

Valentino Rossi:
Usually, I like a lot the more technical and difficult track. I like the quite fast (track), but also if it is more technical and more difficult, I am happy - it's okay.

More important is the condition of the surface, if there is a good grip and not a lot of bumps. Because now the bikes are very, very fast. I like to have a good surface and after that the layout of the track I think is not the problem.