Valentino Rossi heads for this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix hoping for close racing, an extension of his 30-point MotoGP championship lead - and the return of Casey Stoner.

The Italian has had almost a month to soak up his sixth victory of the season in front of his home fans at Misano, a result that strengthened the six time MotoGP champion's title lead over team-mate Jorge Lorenzo with four rounds remaining.

Returning to its more traditional end of season slot, Estoril will be followed by an overseas double-header in Australia and Malaysia before the traditional Valencian season finale.

"It was great to go away for the break after winning in Misano and with a good championship lead and I have enjoyed having three weeks off, but now I am ready to return to work," Rossi declared.

"We're in the final stage of the championship and we have a strong position but, as we've seen throughout this season, anything can happen and we know that the championship is far from over yet.

"The next three races are all good tracks for us and my team and I will aim to get as many points as possible each time and then we will see where we are in Valencia!"

Rossi has an exemplary record at Estoril - having stood on the podium on all of his nine visits, including five wins - but he lost out to the Michelin machines of Lorenzo and Honda's Dani Pedrosa last season.

"Last year we struggled a little in Estoril but it's been a great track for me in the past, especially with Yamaha, and it's a place that usually produces good, close racing so I hope that's the case again this year," said Rossi.

Estoril is scheduled to see the return to action of 2007 world champion and double 2009 race winner Casey Stoner, who has missed three races to try and recover from mystery fatigue problems.

"I also hope to see Casey back in good shape and recovered because the championship misses him," stated Rossi.

"We expect another big battle with Jorge and also with Stoner and Pedrosa," confirmed team manager Davide Brivio. "Estoril was difficult for us last year but this year everyone is on the same tyres and we know that we're in great shape so we're looking forward to a good weekend."

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