Valentino Rossi claims that Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa are favourites for victory in his home grand prix at Misano this weekend.
Rossi, the reigning six time MotoGP champion, heads into the San Marino Grand Prix, located just 15km from his home town, with a reduced 25 point lead over Fiat Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo - after crashing out of last Sunday's race at Indianapolis.
Honda rider Pedrosa also crashed during that race, while leading, and - although Rossi has won five races this year, compared with three for Lorenzo and just one for Pedrosa - the Italian still thinks his young rivals have the edge heading into round 13 of 17.
“It will be very difficult to try and stay in front of Jorge here - it is already a good target just to stay in front of Dani, because with all the acceleration points here the Honda and his riding style will be good,” said Rossi.
“We will start aiming for the podium, because we need to take some important points for the championship, and then afterwards we will look at the other races,” he declared.
Lorenzo meanwhile insists little has changed after his Indy victory.
“No, my confidence is just the same,” he stated. “We have been fast at every track and things only change when you have bad luck or you take too much of a risk. We are competitive at every circuit and are learning from the experience.”
Earlier this season, Rossi's seven-year dominance of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello was broken by Ducati's Casey Stoner, while Rossi was third behind Lorenzo.
Rossi won at Misano last season after Stoner fell from the lead, with rookie Lorenzo three seconds behind in second position. Pedrosa was fourth.