Eight races into his Yamaha MotoGP return and Valentino Rossi has already matched the three podiums he claimed during the tough Ducati years.

Victory at Assen was also Rossi's first since 2010.

And with title leaders Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo sidelined by injury last weekend in Germany, Rossi had his sights set on a back-to-back victory challenge - especially after claiming his first front row start in almost three years.

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Instead Rossi was left a distant third in the race, behind new championship leader Marc Marquez and satellite star Cal Crutchlow, and spoke of needing 'another step' with the set-up of his M1.

With Pedrosa and Lorenzo both less than fully fit for this weekend's US Grand Prix, Rossi and the other challengers have another chance to capitalise.

Only one of Rossi's record 80 MotoGP wins has been at Laguna Seca, but it was also one of his greatest - the 2008 showdown with Casey Stoner.

"Laguna is a very special track, it is very important to me because it is the track of one of my best races in my career in 2008," said Rossi.

"Apart from that time I always seem to suffer there so I hope to go and do a better job this time.

"We have made good progress and are now fighting closer to the front but we need to make another step to fight for more victories."

Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli added: "We are confident that Vale can continue to show his improved form and we are working hard to keep giving him his old confidence to fight at the front with the best possible set up of the bike."

Rossi is fifth in the standings, 37 points behind Marquez. The 2013 MotoGP season reaches its halfway point on Sunday.