Having outpaced team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo by 1.045sec, 0.526sec and 0.680sec in the track sessions held so far this weekend, Valentino Rossi will be bitterly disappointed if he doesn't increase his 18 point MotoGP championship lead in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

The Italian will start the race from second on the grid, after losing out on pole by just 0.05sec to home hero Casey Stoner at the end of qualifying, while Lorenzo will line-up in fourth.

"It is going very well compared with Portugal. Pole position was possible but I made a mistake in the last section on my flying lap and Stoner was able to go a little bit faster than me," said Rossi.

"The first target for tomorrow is for sure the championship and this weekend it looks like Jorge is in a little bit of trouble.

"He is fourth but he is quite far from me and Casey. So the first target is to finish in front of him, but it looks like it is also possible to fight for victory.

"When you are racing, especially at high speed here at Phillip Island, you don't have a lot of room in the brain to make a calculation with the points!

"You just try to concentrate because the race is long and for sure the tyre will slide a lot on the left, where it is under big stress.

"It will be crucial to make a good start, as always in MotoGP, and after that we will see what happens.

"We have a few things to check in the morning, including the final tyre choice - of course we hope for it to be dry but I was also fast in the wet this morning," added the 30-year-old.

Although he cannot win his seventh MotoGP title on Sunday, Rossi's main goal will be to put himself on target to seal the crown in next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix - meaning he needs to gain at least seven points over Lorenzo in these two races.

"As far as our strategy goes, of course we will have one eye on Lorenzo and the championship but also one eye on Stoner and the chance to win the race if possible!" said Rossi's Fiat Yamaha team manager Davide Brivio. "The only issue is the late time of the race, because at 4pm it could be quite a lot colder and therefore this might throw up some surprises."


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