Valentino Rossi may not have finished on the podium at last year's inaugural Thai MotoGP, but he was in contention until the final turn, eventually taking the chequered flag just 1.5s from victory.

Now without a podium since Austin in April, the Monster Yamaha rider will be eager to pick up where he left off one year ago as he returns to the track this weekend - while also keeping one eye on the fight for third in the world championship.

Rossi is currently sixth, one place and ten points behind team-mate Maverick Vinales, but within 19-points of Suzuki's Alex Rins. 125 points are still to be decided.

“Last year the Buriram race weekend was really nice because I had the second place in qualifying and I was fast in the race," Rossi said.

"I fought for the podium until the end. I didn't get it and finished fourth, but I was fast.

"So, this year the goal is to be fast again and try to do even better than last year.”

Rossi and Vinales (third) were battling at the sharp end throughout last year's grand prix, a change in weight balance (towards the rear) by the Spaniard putting him on a path that led to victory two races later in Australia.

"It was at this track where we started to see improvements last year, so we are very keen to compare our current shape and measure the progress we‘ve made since then," said team director Massimo Meregalli.

Rossi has been using the new carbon fibre swingarm and double exhaust at recent events.