Valentino Rossi says he won’t focus on a potential MotoGP world championship challenge until he can be in regular contention for race wins despite moving up to second in the riders’ standings.

The Movistar Yamaha rider has claimed his first back-to-back podium results since the start of 2017 when he claimed three consecutive rostrums having battled to third place at Mugello, seeing off Suzuki pair Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins plus Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci, after taking a surprise pole position at his home round.

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With Marquez crashing during the opening laps of the Italian race, Rossi has moved to 23 points off the Repsol Honda rider with second place in the riders’ championship but has played down any thoughts of the title until he can be confident of winning races again.

“I want to fight for the victory, then the championship,” Rossi said. “If you check the rankings 23 points is not a lot and my whole team at Yamaha will give the maximum but at this moment I am not fast enough for the championship.

“We need to improve, especially in the race, but being there is good because we don’t throw away anything and I am happy.”

Rossi’s major focus has returned to curing Yamaha’s pace problems over a race distance, which has been centralised on its issues with getting the standard specification ECU to extract the maximum from the Michelin tyres having suffered with grip issues.

The nine-time world champion, who says he had no choice but to use the hard option front tyre at Mugello, feels the podium was the maximum he could achieve at his home round behind the two factory Ducati riders but is hopeful of making progress as the season progresses with 13 rounds to go.

“We improved mechanically the balance of the bike with the some different parts and we can use the good things from Yamaha in the qualification or the first laps when we have grip,” he said. “It is a good weekend as I didn’t expect the pole position and I hoped for the podium but didn’t know if I could do.

“For the race distance, especially in the second part when the tyre goes down or at places where we have less grip we suffer more compared to Honda and Ducati. For me we have to work in different areas to improve this part.

“For me personally the problems are very clear and I have tried to explain and now Yamaha have to work to improve.

“It is not easy and you need a lot of people for this work as it is a lot of work and we have to try something but it is not so easy as we can’t be sure when we try new things they will work or be better. I think it is long but Yamaha have started to work and the season is still very long so maybe during the season we can improve.”

Yamaha's last MotoGP race win came at Assen last year when Rossi stormed to victory by just 0.063s ahead of Petrucci. 



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