Valentino Rossi is eager to assess Yamaha’s competitiveness at ‘one of the most difficult tracks of the season’ at Valencia before an intensive winter testing period begins in preparation for 2019.

The Movistar Yamaha heads into the 2018 season finale from ‘the best race of the season’ having led the opening 15 laps of the Malaysia MotoGP at Sepang only to crash off while being chased by Marc Marquez.

Rossi feels his pace to lead in Malaysia coupled with improved results for Yamaha since the Thailand round is evidence of performance gains from his YZR-M1 machine, but feels a true test of the developments will be present at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo which he believes doesn’t suit his team’s package.

“It is important to understand here if we are competitive and if we can find something as it is one of the most difficult tracks of the season for us,” Rossi said. “It is always difficult and it also looks like difficult conditions this year, difficult weather, we’ll see as the forecast is very bad as we have to try to be ready for all conditions.

“I think from Thailand we improved a bit our speed and we are a bit more competitive. Maverick was able to win in Phillip Island and I was competitive in Sepang so it is good to try to understand if we can be stronger here in Valencia.”

With attention also turning to the post-season Valencia test next week, where Yamaha is expected to trail its 2019 engine configuration options along with a series of updates, Rossi has repeated his sentiment of a key winter ahead in his bid to return to consistently fighting for wins and world titles.

“We still have a lot of work to do during the winter and we always try to push for the maximum for something to try,” he said. “The next two or three months will be important moments to try to understand for next year to see if we can be more competitive.”

Rossi goes into the final round to battle team-mate Maverick Vinales for third place in the MotoGP riders’ standings as he holds a slender two-point advantage.

The Italian rider can still surpass his own 2017 points tally if he scores 14 points – third place or higher – in Valencia but his last podium at the Spanish track came in 2014 when he claimed second place having started from pole position in a race when rain threatened the final 12 laps.

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