After battling Marc Marquez for victory in the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, Valentino Rossi faces a crucial test in Texas this weekend.
Rossi finished just 0.259s behind reigning champion Marquez at Losail, potentially setting the Italian up for a much more competitive second season of his Yamaha return.
The reason Austin will be so significant is that Rossi had also been second at the 2013 Qatar round - 0.2s ahead of Marquez - but then dropped off the pace to finish sixth and over 16s behind Marquez in America.
It was a sign of things to come with Marquez, the second Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa and Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo spending much of the year out of reach of the #46. After a promising pre-season and fighting display under the floodlights, Rossi is now seeking confirmation that he can be competitive everywhere.
"I really want to go to Austin, especially after the first race in Qatar. The season started well but now we need confirmation," said the seven time MotoGP champion. "Last year I made one of the worst races of the season in Texas, and this year I want to see if we can be competitive everywhere.
"Getting a good result in Austin would mean a lot for me and for Yamaha. It would mean that the direction taken is the right one. We will try to do our best to be competitive also on the Austin circuit. I'd like to have fun like I did in Qatar."
Team director Massimo Meregalli is confident of avoiding last year's Repsol Honda Austin domination.
"Last year Austin was one of the most challenging races," said Meregalli. "We have made significant improvements with the M1 since then, especially in the area where we were suffering at the first Austin race with acceleration and braking.
"In the middle of the season we introduced the seamless gearbox that has helped us to improve the acceleration of the bike and in the winter we made improvements to braking, especially with Valentino, using electronics and set up.
"We are confident that Vale will continue his momentum after an excellent start to the year."
Rossi's second place finish in Qatar set a new record for point-scoring finishes in motorcycle grand prix racing, with 262. The previous record holder was Loris Capirossi.