After a dramatic and bittersweet home round at Misano, Valentino Rossi heads to Aragon with an increased 23-point MotoGP title lead.
The Italian saw a near one-year podium run end after pitting too late on the drying Misano track. But a crash for team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo meant Rossi's fifth place still almost doubled The Doctor's championship advantage with five rounds to go.
However with both Lorenzo and Honda's Marc Marquez capable of fighting for victory at each of those rounds, Rossi knows his points lead is far from safe.
Adding to Rossi's caution is that Aragon remains one of just two rounds on the current calendar that the nine-time world champion has never won at, alongside Circuit of the Americas. Indeed the #46 has taken just one podium from five Aragon appearances, while Lorenzo boasts four podiums including one win. Nonetheless, both will benefit from a recent private Yamaha test at the Spanish circuit.
“As I said many times, now every race has its own story,” commented Rossi, who has claimed four victories this season versus five for Lorenzo. “There are five races from here to the end of the season. If that's many or few, I don't know, it depends on your point of view, but I do know that it will be important to win races.
“Now we go to Aragón, a track where we have tested some weeks ago. The results were positive but also Jorge went very fast. Our competitors are usually strong here too, so it will be a very challenging weekend. We have to work well from the first day and hopefully the received data from the tests will help us. The atmosphere in the team is very good, I feel good and we're ready to get back on the podium!”
The last time Rossi failed to finish a MotoGP race was at Aragon last year, when the Italian required precautionary scans in hospital due to concussion and a suspected loss of consciousness after a heavy fall on lap 4.
The incident occurred when Rossi ran wide, then fell as he crossed the slippery artificial grass on the edge of the track.
Prior to last weekend at Misano, Rossi had finished on the podium at every event since the Aragon accident.