Max Biaggi has stated that the 2004 MotoGP season will see him involved in a four-way fight for the world title - between three manufacturers - but is feeling confident after an assurance from the Honda Racing president, and certainly doesn't fear reigning champion Valentino Rossi.

"I am optimistic about next season, which I think will be one of the most thrilling and hard fought of the last few years," said Max at the Bologna Motorshow. "I know I'm among those in contention and think that the title will be between me, Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) - who will always be a threat - Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and Sete Gibernau (Honda).

"I'm hoping to start the season well and to have the same equipment as others from the beginning. The president of Honda Racing, (Suguru) Kanazawa, has confirmed that next year all six Honda riders will have the same machinery.

"That is fundamental. This past season, the differences between the HRC team (Repsol Honda) and others was considerable, particularly in terms of number of new parts during the year," he continued.

"Electronics are everything in MotoGP these days, and all credit to the Japanese who work on the bikes with their laptop computers - changing the engine mappings etc - they can make the bike do what they want. MotoGP is right at the peak of technology," added the #3.
Attention then turned to the famous Biaggi/Rossi rivalry which has dominated the premier-class since the #46 stepped onto a 500cc Honda NSR in 2000. In the past the pair have literally come to blows, but more recently there has been a more relaxed and - dare it be said - respectful attitude towards each other.

"I've never been afraid to race anyone - the battles stimulate me," commented the Roman, avoiding direct reference to the newly signed Yamaha rider.

Biaggi has won 41 GPs since his debut in the 1991 French 250cc Grand Prix, with 29 of those taken in the quarter-litre class - where he claimed four world titles. But which, of all his victories in the 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP class, does he value the most?

"That would be my 500cc debut, at Suzuka (in 1998). I took pole position with a best lap over one second faster than (Mick) Doohan, then led the race from start to finish," recalled the current Camel Pramac Pons rider.

Biaggi is almost certain to remain at the Pons team next season, where he is expected to be joined by Makoto Tamada, although the arrangement - which would involve Sito Pons renting one of his grid slots to the Pramac Honda team - has yet to be confirmed.



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