Valentino Rossi was in confident mood as he assessed his pre-season preparations during Wednesday's official MotoGP press conference in in Qatar ahead of Sunday's world championship opener.
The Italian star is starting with a clean slate after going agonisingly close to the world crown in 2015 following a tumultuous season that ended in controversy in the wake of his clash with Marc Marquez at Sepang, with his resulting penalty punishment forcing the Movistar Yamaha rider to start from the rear of the grid at Valencia.
Rossi missed out on the premier class crown by only five points, but the 37-year-old has put the disappointment behind him and is ready to begin another title quest on Sunday at the Losail International Circuit.
“It looks this year like everything will be very interesting because we have a lot of differences, especially about riding the motorcycle because the tyres are different and also the electronics system. It will be a very interesting year and also because during the winter season we saw a lot of riders very close and it looks like more [competitive] than last year,” Rossi said.
“From a rider's point, this means that you will have to work very hard during a weekend and arrive ready for Sunday.
“Personally I'm quite satisfied about the test because we were a bit worried about our bike with the Michelins, because last year in the tests we had a lot of problems. But the tyres improved a lot and our guys in Japan make a lot of work to find the right balance,” he added.
“If you take the three different weekends of tracks, of testing, our bike was very competitive. For sure from tomorrow, everything will be different because tests are important, but the race weekend is different and all the riders can do a little bit better and give a little bit more. So we have to understand in the normal race weekend where we are.”
Rossi said that while there was potential for this year's championship to be more hotly contested by more riders than ever before, a clearer picture would only develop after the opening rounds.
“I don't know essentially because it is difficult to say and we have to wait until the first race. On paper, with the new tyres and electronics, it can bring the level of more bikes and more riders closer,” he said.
“If this happens, it means it can be a championship that was better than last year. In the test, this was the theme, especially with the pace with five or six riders who are very strong, but we have to wait for the first race.”
The nine-time world champion confirmed on Wednesday that he will continue working with former 500cc Grand Prix winner and fellow countryman Luca Cadalora throughout this season.
Rossi said Cadalora, who often tests an R1 alongside him at Misano, had provided some useful feedback during pre-season testing and would continue in a similar vein this year.
“Luca will work with me also for the season, we speak together and we try in the test,” Rossi said.
“It is always interesting to have a former rider like Luca with a lot of experience and a good vision around the track and during the test we found something interesting and we will continue for the season.”
Rossi's team-mate and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo works closely with former Grand Prix racer Wilco Zeelenberg.