Valentino Rossi has managed to claw back points on Marc Marquez in the last four MotoGP races but expects a more difficult task this weekend at Motorland Aragon.
Rossi has cut the Repsol Honda rider's advantage to 43 points with five races remaining but the Italian feels the Spanish circuit does not offer an obvious opportunity to reduce the gap further.
“The second half of the season was not so bad. Unfortunately, I was not able to win one race but I take some points and try to recover after some mistakes in the first half of the season,” Rossi said.
“The difference to Marquez remains very big because in the last races I did some good races and some podiums, but I gained just a bit. Anyway we have to try to continue like this because we work well and we are always quite competitive.
“I think in this weekend it will be a little bit more difficult because this track is not one of the best for me and also last year we struggled a lot during the practice, but at the end the race was quite good. I was strong and I enjoyed a lot the battle.
“We have to start from that point and try to be competitive because for sure, here, all the Spanish riders are very difficult to beat,” added the Movistar Yamaha rider, who says he places equal importance on finishing second in the championship and winning more races between now and the end of the season.
“Second place is a lot less important than winning the championship. It's more or less on the same level because winning races is great but we need to try to do both.”
Rossi, meanwhile, was loathe to pinpoint which of the remaining five rounds represent his best chance of returning to the top of the rostrum once again and said his first objective was to try and finish inside the top three.
“It's always very difficult to understand where you can win or struggle more, especially this year with the different tyres. For me personally now we have five races to go, the most important [thing] is to take points in all those races and try to arrive on the podium in all the races from here to the end,” he said.
“The second target is try to win but you never know where, you have to try to give the maximum everywhere and then see.”
Asked to explain the biggest challenges for his YZR-M1 at Aragon, Rossi highlighted acceleration out of tight corners and hard braking on the edge of the tyre as key factors.
“Usually you have some corners very tight, when you have to accelerate from low speed – especially after the second chicane you start from very low speed and it's a very difficult corner and then you have a back straight. Usually in that type of situation we suffer a bit but in other places the bike is good because we have changes of direction and long and flowing fast corners, where our bike is good.
“You have a lot of hard braking on the edge and usually in the past we suffer a bit in those places, but like we say you never know. This year everything is different with the tyres but we have to wait.”
MotoGP has thrown up an incredible eight different winners in the last eight races for the first time in history and Rossi admits it was a scenario that no one had foreseen.
“It is something that nobody expect because in the last years it was more or less always the same names in all the conditions. But in the last eight races we have eight different names, so it is interesting for the championship and it means this year is more difficult – the balance is more between the riders and different bikes,” said the 37-year-old.
“If the conditions changes you have different names that are also very strong, so also for this reason you need to try to be always there and try to arrive on the podium.”