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Can Valentino Rossi crack COTA?

Movistar Yamaha team-mates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo look ahead to next weekend's Austin MotoGP round
Since returning to Yamaha in 2013, Valentino Rossi has failed to finish on the podium at just two tracks: Termas de Rio Hondo and Circuit of the Americas.

Of those, COTA clearly stands out as Rossi's toughest circuit.

While the Italian, winner of the season-opening Qatar night race, finished a competitive fourth during Argentina's MotoGP return last year, he has only managed sixth and eighth in the two Texan visits.

Last year Rossi finished 45 seconds behind Honda's Marc Marquez, winner of both COTA MotoGP events so far held.

“We have struggled here,” confessed the nine time world champion, now a winner of 109 grand prix races. “Even though we always try to do our best but so far we just can't find the perfect compromise to go fast”, adding that the “two long straights are weak points for us.”

However, he is still a fan of the circuit: “The track is very modern and I do really love some of the corners. I think we can do even better this season there, especially because the bike is good and we have made some important improvements. I would like to be on the podium but it won't be easy!”

Team-mate and fellow world champion Jorge Lorenzo has already taken a COTA podium, during the inaugural 2013 race, but last year's event was the scene of an “awful” jump start error.

“I made a big mistake, which was pretty bad regarding the championship,” said Lorenzo, fourth in Qatar after a helmet problem hampered his vision in the closing stages. “Austin is a beautiful racetrack, unfortunately it suits some of our rivals better but it is always a nice place to ride.

“Hopefully this year we can improve our result there [COTA] so it's a nice challenge for all the Yamaha family. I want to be on the podium at the very least!”

Both factory Yamaha riders are also more than aware of America's significance in terms of the past, present and future of MotoGP.

“We have a lot of fans in America and I truly believe it is key for motorsport to have MotoGP in the United States,” said Rossi, leading the MotoGP standings for the first time since 2010.

“The US is an important market for selling bikes all around the world so it's crucial to have some races there,” added Lorenzo. “The fans here are very passionate and knowledgeable about racing.

“The US has a huge heritage in terms of racing with legends such as Lawson, Schwantz, Rainey and Mamola. It's great to be here racing in front of these American fans. And Austin especially has a nice racetrack so for me the future looks bright for MotoGP in the US.”

Opening practice for the Grand Prix of the Americas takes place on April 10.

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