Valentino Rossi is confident of replicating his Jerez winter testing form as the European leg of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship kicks off in Spain this weekend.
Rossi has finished second and sixth in the opening races of his Yamaha return, at Qatar and Austin, but neither were circuits particularly suited to the Italian.
Jerez is different. The Spanish circuit has a special place in Rossi's heart, starting with a debut premier-class podium in his rookie 2000 season.
Rossi then took the first of six premier-class victories the following year, including a controversial last turn pass on Sete Gibernau in 2005.
The Doctor enjoyed his best pre-season testing performance of 2013 at Jerez in late March, leading day two on his way to a close second overall behind Cal Crutchlow.
”Jerez will be a very important race. I believe and hope that we can be very fast as we have been in testing,” Rossi confirmed. “We will have to work well and aim for the podium. We still have something to do, especially for the set-up of the bike but we have some ideas.”
Rossi also revealed that Yamaha will stay at Jerez to test. “Furthermore on Monday after the race we will be testing there and we'll have the opportunity to try different things.”
As well as Jerez, Rossi is looking forward to many of the traditional European events. “Jerez, Le Mans and Mugello are all circuits that are favourable to us and where we will be fine.”
Yamaha team manager Massimo Meregalli is equally confident that Yamaha can respond to Honda's Austin dominance.
“We have great expectations for Jerez, we had a really good test there so we know we can already start with a good set up. Both riders were very fast and consistent during the three days we rode there pre-season. We are really looking forward to this coming weekend and we are confident of a good result.”
Rossi will start the weekend fourth in the championship, eleven points behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and joint title leader Marc Marquez (Honda). Rossi finished third at Jerez on his most recent Yamaha race appearance, in 2010.
His best Jerez result on the Ducati was a fifth place in 2011, when he remounted after falling and bringing down Casey Stoner.