Valentino Rossi has modest expectations heading into this weekend's Czech Republic MotoGP - a special event for the Italian.

It was at Brno that Rossi took his first ever grand prix win, from his first pole, in the 125cc class in 1996 - then wrapped up the first of his nine world titles at the same circuit the following year.

A five-time Brno winner in the premier-class, Rossi heads for the 2011 event with the simple aim of getting his Ducati closer to the front of the field.

The Doctor finished 30 seconds from victory at the previous US GP.

"After Laguna I took a few days of vacation, at the beach close to home. It was a short break but enough to recharge the batteries following an intense period," said Rossi, whose fifth place in the standings is starting to come under pressure from Yamaha replacement Ben Spies.

"Now we'll spend a nice mid-August at Brno - classic! Seriously, I'm always happy to go there. I like the track not only because it's very nice, wide and fast, and I've always gone well there, but also because it's a special place for me since it's where I earned my first pole, my first win and my first world championship.

"During both the race weekend and the Monday test, we'll continue concentrating on the bike's setup, with the goal of reducing the gap to the lead group," concluded the #46, who has taken one podium from his first ten races for Ducati.

Team-mate Nicky Hayden spent part of his summer break at Indy, splitting his time between promotional activities for the upcoming Grand Prix and trying out the new track surface aboard a Ducati 1198 SP.

"It's been a bit of a break, but fortunately not all of it was away from bikes!" said Hayden, who also has one podium so far this year. "On August 5 I had an opportunity to ride a Ducati 1198 SP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the entire infield section has been resurfaced, from Turn 5 to 16, in order to eliminate the bumps that used to limit our line options.

"Indy was already a great track, but now it's safer and even more fun. A big thanks to Ducati North America and IMS for all the hard work to make the test possible.

"I'm ready to get to Brno now. It's a very different circuit to what we've been to for the last two races at the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca. Those are tight with short lap times, and Brno is definitely a big, open track. We know it won't be easy, but we've just got to keep chipping away.

"It's clear that everybody at Ducati is doing the maximum, so we'll go there and try to get a good result. Obviously the test on Monday will be really important for us. I'll probably just ride the GP11 on the race weekend and then test the new bike on Monday."