Valentino Rossi starts his final three races as a Ducati rider in the middle of a close three-rider fight for fifth place in the final MotoGP World Championship standings.

The seven time MotoGP champion is seven points behind Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista, who presently holds the position, and two points ahead of Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow.

"We are in the fight for fifth place in the championship with Cal and Alvaro. We are the slowest of the three but we have to try. We are not so far," he said.

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Rossi is a six-time former winner at the Sepang circuit, venue for this weekend's Malaysia round, and something of a 'second home' for the Italian.

"This is a great circuit. One of the best. All the riders spend almost one month during the year at Sepang. We did a calculation and we think we have done around 25,000 km at Sepang in the last ten years!" he revealed. "So for sure we know the track well.

"It is a great pleasure to race here because it is one of the most fun tracks to ride MotoGP, because it is the right size for a MotoGP bike. Very wide. And it is complete - hard braking, tight hairpin and also some very fast parts."

Rossi, who was involved in last year's tragic incident with Marco Simoncelli, also spoke about Thursday's ceremony in honour of his fellow Italian.