Valentino Rossi is aiming to banish his Estoril woes and break the title challenge of Jorge Lorenzo as MotoGP heads for two of his best tracks, starting with the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Rossi was left bitterly disappointed when rear grip problems last time out in Portugal left him an uncompetitive fourth, while Fiat Yamaha team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo stormed to victory - slicing Rossi's title lead from 30 to 18 points with three rounds to go.
"Estoril was a great disappointment but we have to look at the positive and consider that we still came fourth and took 13 points in these conditions,” said Rossi. “I know that Yamaha have been studying the data very hard to understand what went wrong for us, and we hope that the situation in Phillip Island will be very different.”
The reigning six time MotoGP world champion, a winner of six races this season, cites Phillip Island as one of his favourite tracks and he has stood on the podium ten times in all classes, including an unbeaten five-year winning streak from 2001-2005 and title winning rides in 2001 and 2004.
Last year he blasted through the field from the fourth row to finish a distant second behind home winner Casey Stoner (Ducati), but he hasn't won since 2005.
“I love this track and have some of the greatest memories of my career there and I really want to be in the best shape for this race,” declared The Doctor. “It's too long since I've won there!
“I think that the championship is going to be a great fight to the end with Lorenzo, but the next two tracks especially are two of my best,” he warned.
Sepang will host the Malaysian Grand Prix just one week after Phillip Island, before the season-ending round at Valencia on November 8 - a track Rossi has only won twice at in nine MotoGP visits and the scene of his shock 2006 title defeat.
Rossi's team manager Davide Brivio confirmed that engineers have been pouring through the data from Estoril to find the cause of Rossi's raceday problems, but stopped short of saying that a solution had been found.
“Our engineers have been working hard to understand what went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again this weekend, and we're looking forward to getting back on track and putting it behind us,” he said. “Valentino has had some fantastic races in Australia but it's a few years since he's won there so we will doing everything we can to get back on the podium this weekend and increase our points lead in the title fight."