Valentino Rossi has labelled the Dutch Grand Prix a “special weekend” but refused to be drawn on whether he can end his 34-race winless run at the very circuit at which he won his last race.

The Italian has “some small improvements” to aid his quest in the Netherlands after an unremarkable test in Barcelona, where he placed 14th on the timesheets. But it is "more or less the package is the same" as what he raced at round seven.

Assen might well offer Yamaha’s riders their best chance of securing a first MotoGP victory for the factory in 2019, with the chronic top speed shortage of this year’s M1 unlikely to be exposed as brutally as the previous three tracks.

“Unfortunately it’s a long time,” said the 40-year old recalling his 2017 triumph. “From that victory I think I did some good races, some good second places. Also in some moments in some races I had the possibility to win but I couldn’t.

“About this year: it’s a difficult question, sincerely. I love this track. It’s always great to be here. It’s a special weekend because you always have a fantastic atmosphere around but also because this track is great for motorcycle racing. It’s a great taste to ride here.

“Also for some reason you have always fantastic battles like last year. We have to restart from the Barcelona weekend because I was not so bad. I was quite competitive and I think I could do a good race.

“This is our target: try to work well from tomorrow morning and stay in the important positions during practice, and be ready for Sunday to try to make a good race. We will see. This is the target for us.

“Our potential compared to our rivals we have wait and see tomorrow what happens on the track. I hope we will have good weather during the weekend.”

On the Barcelona test, Rossi said, “We tried something in Barcelona for the future and for now but sincerely my bike will be very, very similar to the race weekend.

“We have some small details, some small improvements in the electronics to improve the engine character. But at the end more or less the package is the same.”

One component the Italian will not use in the Netherlands is the finger operated rear brake that he tried at the post-race test in Barcelona. Rossi does, however, believe there is a future using that on his left handlebar.

“For me it’s a good idea. I use the finger brake at the ebginning of last season but it was the thumb brake. At this moment I prefer the thumb brake. Like this I need more time.

“I think that now I will not use for this weekend. It’s a thing that you need to put on the bike and make some kilometres. But we try to understand some things and make some tests for Yamaha for the future.

“Maybe it can be the future for the MotoGP because you don’t use the clutch. It’s good to have the brake on this finger like the scooter or the bicycle. There can be more feeling compared to the foot. It can be something for the future. But now I remain with the normal situation.”

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