Valentino Rossi has praised his Movistar Yamaha team as he urges them to dig in for a 'very long' MotoGP championship battle.

Rossi sits six points clear of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso after winning two of the opening three events, including a dramatic clash with reigning champion Marc Marquez last time in Argentina.

The Doctor used the extra hard rear tyre to hunt down Marquez at the Rio Hondo circuit, the pair bumping and then tangling as Marquez tried to keep the lead from Rossi on the penultimate lap.

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Marquez was flung to the ground after clipping Rossi's rear wheel, putting the Italian 30-points clear of the Repsol Honda rider, who then suffered a finger injury while dirt track training.

All of which means Rossi starts the first European event with a six point lead over nearest rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati). Rossi hasn't led the championship after three rounds since 2009, the year he won his seventh and most recent premier-class title.

"I'm very happy to come back to Europe!" said the 36-year-old, who has claimed both his 2015 wins from just eighth on the grid. "These first three races have been very positive, although some of these circuits are not my favourites nor of the Yamaha! Yet my YZR-M1 has behaved very well and we rode nice races!

"To go to Jerez, after the victory in Argentina and holding first place in the championship, is certainly very positive. However the most important thing is that we're doing a great job with the guys of the team. We must continue to work well together. The championship is still very long!

"I feel good and returning to Europe is nice. I really like the Jerez GP. The track is beautiful and also the atmosphere is fantastic. It also has very fast turns and I like that a lot. I did good races at this circuit in the past and I'll try to have a good race also this year!"

The oldest rider in MotoGP, Rossi's victory in Argentina extended his premier-class record to 84 wins, with 110 wins across all grand prix classes. Giacomo Agostini holds the all-time record with 122 victories.

Rossi finished second to Marquez by 1.4s at Jerez last season. Jerez is again round 4 of 18.