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Rossi ready to race.

Reigning six time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi will have to work hard to overcome the predicted challenge of Casey Stoner at this weekend's Qatar season-opener, but warned that 'tests mean nothing' and insists he has 'a few cards to play'.

While Rossi is undoubtedly the title favourite heading into the new season, victory at Qatar is a far tougher prospect, on paper at least. The Italian claimed his worst race finish of the 2008 season with fifth at Losail, on his Bridgestone debut, and has won only twice from five Losail visits.

Rossi's most recent Qatar victory was in 2006, and he was only third fastest in the 2009 Qatar pre-season test, over one second behind Stoner's Ducati. Stoner has won the last two Qatar MotoGP races.

Surprisingly, Rossi was also outpaced by Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, now using the same Bridgetsone/M1 technical package, at the night test - but remains defiant.

“Qatar isn't one of our strongest tracks but we still have a few cards to play and I hope that a little more work will see us improve for the first race,” he said. “Tests really mean nothing once you get to racing, the situation is totally different and really we have little idea what will happen until we get there, it's very exciting!

“I'm feeling confident, we're in good shape even if we're going to what was our worst track during testing, but I am happy about the performance of my M1 in general; Yamaha have done a great job and so this makes me happy.”

“Valentino has been strong during testing and we're not worried about Qatar, we still have some things to try and we're confident we will be fast enough to challenge there,” insisted team manager Davide Brivio.

Stoner, the 2007 world champion and Rossi's closest 2008 rival, was able to outpace the Italian at all three pre-season tests, but Rossi is the master of race day battles and is interested to see how the new single-tyre rule will influence tactics.

“With the new single tyre rule the tactics will become clearer race by race,” he commented. “I think a lot of new factors will come into play and strategy is going to be quite important to determine where you start the race. I think luck will also be a factor in qualifying, more so than previously! In fact, I am quite curious to see what will happen in a 45 minute race with so few tyres, it's going to be interesting."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Stoner and Rossi, Jerez MotoGP tests, 2009
Nakagami, Oliveira, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Edgar Pons, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Isaac Vinales, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Schrotter, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Cortese, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Quartararo, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Pawi, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Isaac Vinales, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Quartararo, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Aegerter, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Kent, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Luthi, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Morbidelli, Luthi, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Morbidelli leads start, Moto2 race, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Vinales overtakes Dovizioso, Qatar MotoGP Race 2017
Rossi, Qatar MotoGP 2017
Smith, Qatar MotoGP 2017

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Bayliss fan - Unregistered

April 08, 2009 8:56 AM

I think the failure by many Rossi fans to admit Stoner's skill and speed is pure ignorance. The Yamaha was the better bike last year, if the situation was reversed, and Rossi rode for Ducati, it would only be Rossi's sublime skill that would make the bike faster. Since it's Stoner, it's all electronics, TC etc. The results tell the story, Stoner's team mates on the Ducati have been at the tail of the field. The Yamaha has been one of the best bikes in the paddock since the Rossi switch, which coincided with JB and Yamaha's renewed effort and investment. The reality is, Stoner has the jump, after 4 or 5 races development kicks in and the playing field may be levelled.

give it a rest - Unregistered

April 07, 2009 12:36 PM

It blows me away how so many ppl can get on here and bag the riders, they are all so talented - but i guess all u armchair critics could do so much better. If anyone read the article on stoner in Italy last week, he stated "that if Rossi was not his rival, he would be in the g/stand watching Rossi as a fan" - i dont see why u cant just sit back and enjoy. BTW if u doubt Rossi being the G.O.A.T grab a copy of "The Doctor, Kentucky Kid and Texas Tornado" and listen to Colin's i/view, and why do the other gr8 riders of the past name him as such - but what would they know hey? Only the stoner fans would know better. Just enjoy the talent of both - stoner has yrs ahead, enjoy Rossi y u can!!!

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