Valentino Rossi feels his and Jorge Lorenzo's race potential at Assen is on a level par and says he must improve in qualifying if he is to hold on to the lead in the MotoGP championship.
The Movistar Yamaha team-mates are separated by just a single point after Lorenzo claimed his fourth consecutive victory last time out in Catalunya, while Rossi narrowly missed out in second place.
The six-time MotoGP World Champion knows his task in Assen is a straightforward equation, to hold on to his championship lead he must finish ahead of his team-mate. Rossi is anticipating another difficult battle with Lorenzo but feels neither of them has a distinct edge when it comes to race pace.
“Assen will be another very intense weekend,” Rossi said. “After seven races the difference between me and Jorge is just one point and to keep the first place I have to finish in front of him. It won't be easy because Jorge is in a great shape, but so am I. Jorge's and my potential are very similar.”
The Italian's Achilles heel has been his results in qualifying which have seen him start races lower down on the grid compared to his rivals and has had to battle through the pack, while Lorenzo has charged clear at the front.
“First we must improve our qualifying and we will work on making a better start to the race in Assen,” he confirmed.
Looking ahead to Assen, the Dutch circuit is a place which holds many fond memories for the Yamaha rider. Rossi has claimed six MotoGP victories at the circuit and is tied on most wins with Giacomo Agostini.
“I like Assen, it's a nice circuit. I did some good races there in the past and usually our bike is working really well, so it will be another important race,” he added. “I'm sure our rivals will do everything they can to fight for the victory and we have to keep our eyes out for them.”