As a rider with a staggering nine world championship titles to his name - and at barely 30 years of age into the bargain - it is arguable that Valentino Rossi has been blessed with good fortune throughout his motorcycling career, but former British 500cc Champion Steve Parrish points out that sometimes, you make your own luck.

Rossi heads into 2010 bidding to claim a third straight premier class crown with FIAT Yamaha - and on the basis of pre-season testing, he looks to be in fine form to do just that, having paced all four major days around the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia thus far.

It is indisputable that up against hungry and younger pretenders of the likes of Ducati Marlboro duo Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden - ex-champions both - Repsol Honda rival Dani Pedrosa and his own team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, 'The Doctor' is likely to have things far from his own way over the coming months, but still the legendary Italian is considered to be the favourite heading towards the curtain-raising showdown at Losail in Qatar in a month's time.

With good reason, contends Parrish, but Barry Sheene's former team-mate goes on to caution that Rossi can only physically and mentally remain at such a phenomenally high level for so long, and that one day - perhaps not even too far into the future - he will find that the desire is beginning to fade.

"He is an enigma," the bike and truck racer-turned-BBC commentator told Radio, when asked about the 103-time grand-prix winner's prospects for the forthcoming campaign. "I wouldn't have believed he could have done it for this long, actually. He is such a bright, intelligent man who has everything that is required of a motorcycle racer.

"You see him on the track, at times when it looks like everyone else is overloaded, and he seems to have more space left on his C-Drive than anyone else. He just has that ability to absorb what's going on, and we all say he has a lot of luck, but you make a lot of luck, and he seems to be able to just look at the situation and work things out.

"I don't know; he certainly has the capability [to win again], but it's whether or not that fire in his belly is still burning strongly enough - that will be the thing that marks not necessarily the demise of Valentino Rossi, but certainly the youngsters coming through. The likes of Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo in particular have got so much youthful exuberance and pure skill, and probably their fuse won't blow quite as early as Rossi's nowadays."