Valentino Rossi looks set to continue in MotoGP beyond the end of his existing contract, with the reigning six time MotoGP world champion and 2009 title leader believing he is capable of another three or four years at the top.
“Last year, here [at Laguna Seca], I signed for two more years with Yamaha,” said Rossi, who has recently been once again linked with Ferrari and F1. “I'm so happy.
"If I had to decide now, I feel in good shape - both mentally and physically - and I think it is possible to stay at the top with motorcycles for another three or four years," he stated.
That would mean the Italian, who began his grand prix career in 1996 and claimed his 100th grand prix victory last weekend at Assen, could easily have enough time to overhaul countryman Giacomo Agostini.
Rossi has already won more premier-class races than any other rider in history, but trails Agostini by two premier-class world championships. Perhaps the biggest record of all still outstanding is Agostini's total of 122 grand prix wins in all classes.
But Rossi cautioned that a final decision on his MotoGP future will only be made next season.
“I never think too far ahead, so I will decide for sure next year,” said the 30-year-old, before reiterating his happiness at Yamaha: “The situation at Yamaha is so positive. There is a great atmosphere and especially this year it looks like our M1 is so competitive and better than the 2008 version.”
Turning to this weekend's US Grand Prix, Rossi believes he will have time on his side in a different way.
“I like American jet lag,” said the Fiat Yamaha star, renowned for his aversion to early starts. “In the mornings here I am in much better shape than in Italy, or Europe!”
Last year's Laguna Seca race saw an epic battle between Rossi and reigning champion Casey Stoner, which the Italian won after Stoner fell, marking the turning point of the season.
Rossi returns with a slim four point lead over team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, with Ducati star Stoner just nine points back in third.
“I have a good setting from the 2008 race, but now there is high pressure for me to get a result like last year's," he admitted.
Rossi also believes the new single-tyre rule could put the local stars back into contention.
Colin [Edwards] and Nicky [Hayden] will also be a lot closer, because this time they are both on Bridgestone tyres,” the #46 declared.