Valentino Rossi is the first to admit that 2019 'hasn't been an easy season', but the Italian showed speed and consistency during a 'good race' last time at Sepang.

Setting a fastest race lap for the first time since 2016 the Monster Yamaha rider came within 0.354s of ending a now 15-round podium absence.

The nine time world champion is currently seventh in the standings heading into this weekend's Valencia season finale, which would be his worst championship position since 2011 at Ducati.

However, Rossi still has a fighting chance of fifth overall, sitting only six points from Petronas rookie Fabio Quartararo and ten from Ducati's Danilo Petrucci.

“The final GP of 2019 has arrived. It hasn't been an easy season but in the last races we improved," Rossi said.

"In Malaysia we had a good race and we will try to do the same in Valencia, we want to try to go on the podium.

"After the last Grand Prix there will be two tests, one in Valencia and one in Jerez. These will be very important weeks. We will do our best!”

Rossi fought for victory in last year's restarted wet Valencia race, only to fall, meaning his most recent rostrum at the track was in 2014.

Team director Massimo Meregalli said: "Vale would like to fight for the victory again in Valencia, as a do-over of last year‘s race.

"Overall, we‘ll keep our goal for this weekend simple: we want to give the fans one thrilling last race weekend before the ’winter break‘, though we won‘t be resting.

"On the Tuesday after the race we will, of course, go straight back to work again to continue testing for 2020.”

Valencia will also be Rossi's final race with crew chief Silvano Galbusera, whom he has worked alongside since 2014.

David Munoz will step-up from the VR46 Moto2 team to be Rossi's new crew chief for 2020, when Galbusera is due to join Yamaha's European Test Team, although uncertainty surrounds the identity of its rider with Jonas Folger being dropped.

Rossi's team-mate Maverick Vinales took his second victory of the season at Sepang and currently holds third in the world championship.

 

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