Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi admits he is unsure if he can pull off a repeat of his 2015 victory in the Qatar MotoGP, but the Italian rider is eyeing the top three as a minimum goal this weekend.
Last year's world championship runner-up has made sound progress with the 2016 YZR-M1 throughout the winter testing programme and has been consistently strong as the 37-year-old builds towards yet another premier class title charge.
Like team-mate Lorenzo, Rossi has an impressive record at the Losail International Circuit, claiming his fourth victory last season following wins in 2005, 2006 and 2010. He has also finished second four times in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014 and will be confident of starting the new season with a top three result on the Yamaha.
“Finally we start talking about racing! I'm very glad that a new season begins. Our tests were definitely positive, but the race is another thing,” Rossi said.
“During testing we've learned a lot about the new tyres and electronics, but there are many other things to discover and this first race will be really important to understand the real potential of the bikes and the riders.
“Last season for me began very well. I don't know if I will be able to repeat that result but I will try to get on the podium for sure. It will be important to start to work well from the first sessions and get ready and have clear ideas going into the race,” added Rossi, who finished fifth fastest on the combined times in the Qatar test, sixth tenths behind Lorenzo, who was half-a-second faster than anyone else.
“I feel ready and motivated and so does the team, so let's go!"