Valentino Rossi admits the odds are stacked against him in his quest for a tenth world title but the Italian star is ready for a 'great fight to the end' in this year's MotoGP World Championship.
Rossi is 57 points behind Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez with eight races remaining heading into this weekend's 11th round at Brno in the Czech Republic.
The Movistar Yamaha rider has been left to rue some errors earlier in the season and the misfortune of an engine failure at Mugello, but the 37-year-old has vowed to give his all during the title run-in.
“It's still very long because there are eight races and at this moment you can have seven riders who are very strong who can fight for the victory. It depends very much from one track to another, so we have to try to be competitive and try to always be on the top,” Rossi said.
“For us it is a great shame that we already have this disadvantage compared to Marc because we did some mistakes and also we were a bit unlucky. We have a good potential but we are quite far, so at this moment for us we need to do also something extra because we have to go faster but we have always to take points.
“We have to take it race by race and try to do the maximum because I think from here to the end it will always be a great fight.”
Reflecting on his fourth place behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in Austria, Rossi was disappointed to miss out on his target of a podium finish but The Doctor is ready to fight again this weekend at Brno.
“It looks like this year is the complete opposite to last year: more competitive in the qualifying and good qualifying – a lot of front rows – but some more problems in the race,” he said.
“At the end the race in Austria was not so bad because I was quite fast, quite constant and especially we didn't lose a lot of distance to the two Ducatis, which were a lot faster. It was difficult to arrive on the podium because Lorenzo was faster than me; we arrived very close but I was never able to fight for the podium, which was our target.
“We have to try another time here and on paper it is a good track for the Yamaha, but you don't know because we have never come here with the Michelins, so we start from zero. After, we need to understand the speed and the level of the two Ducatis and I think they can be competitive here because it is a fast track, but also there are a lot of corners,” added Rossi, who achieved his first Grand Prix victory at Brno exactly 20 years ago.
“Also the speed of the Hondas [will be a factor] with Marc but also [Dani] Pedrosa, who is very strong in Brno, so all the top guys are in good shape. It's a great track, I like it a lot and it is the race of my first victory, which is something unforgettable.
“I've had a lot of important results in my career here but in the last years it was not the best – I wasn't able to be at the top and be as fast especially as Marquez and Lorenzo, so this is the target for this weekend: to try to be a little bit faster and fight with them.”
Following Ducati's breakthrough one-two with Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso in Austria, Rossi says this weekend is an important one for the factory team in terms of painting a clearer picture of the potential of the Desmosedici GP16 to feature consistently at the front.
“I think for Ducati this race is very important because everybody expected the Ducati to be competitive in Austria because they are very fast in acceleration and they are very fast on the straight. Us, with the Honda and the Yamahas, we hope that they can have some tyre problems during the race or that we can have some advantage in the 28 laps but at the end, the Ducati was also the best bike with the tyres last week.
“For this reason they can go fast for all the race and this is more a problem for us. Here is a track where you can understand better but I think they can be competitive and they can fight with us.”