He may not say it, but it's startling clear that, barring disaster, Valentino Rossi will be the 2005 MotoGP World Champion, but if the Italian superstar's rivals think he'll be backing off they are sadly mistaken - because Rossi now wants to beat his own season win record.

Rossi's current championship lead of 120-points, over Movistar Honda's Marco Melandri, is the largest advantage ever held by a rider after ten races of a season in any grand prix class and he is now looking to beat his own record of eleven wins in a season in the seven remaining rounds.

Rossi eighth win of 2005, claimed just before the summer break in Germany, matched Mike Hailwood's total of 76 grand prix victories, a figure bettered only by the legendary Giacomo Agostini and Angel Nieto. Rossi needs just one more win to equal his total of nine from last season - already a premier class record for a Yamaha rider.

"Records are not the most important thing but I am very happy to have the same number of victories as 'Mike the Bike'," said Rossi, who recently extended his deal with Yamaha until the end of the 2006 season. "I never saw him race but they tell me he was one of the best, maybe the best ever. I am now on the podium of all-time winners and this is a big pleasure for me."

Rossi scored his very first win in grand prix racing at Brno, venue for this weekend's Czech Republic Grand Prix, in 1996 in the 125cc class, after starting from pole for the first time in his career. Since then a further three of his 76 victories have come at Brno, including the MotoGP race in 2001 and 2003, and it is a result he would like to repeat as he looks to make up from the disappointment of losing to Sete Gibernau last season (lower pic).

"This break was very important because the first half of the season has been very tough and everybody needed to rest! I have been winning races but every one has been a big battle, almost always with a different rival. Each of the remaining seven races of this season will be another challenge, but I want to try to beat my record of eleven wins in a season," Vale confirmed.

"Brno is definitely not my favourite circuit but I have had good races there in the past, especially two years ago. It is a high-speed track, but it still has many turns, as well as some up and downhill sections and a lot of adverse camber," he continued.

"Last year the Yamaha was not bad there, but I lost a little bit too much time under acceleration at the beginning and then also under braking towards the end and in the end it was impossible to beat Gibernau. This year our bike is much better, so I hope it will be a different result!"

"We still have seven races to go and the next few rounds in particular will be very important for us," added team director Davide Brivio. "We won at some of the remaining tracks with Valentino last year so we will be trying to repeat those victories and also Valentino himself will be determined to win at the circuits where he didn't manage to last season."



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