Rossi targets podium finish
Italy's Valentino Rossi on Thursday said podium places were within reach following three-days of pre-season MotoGP testing at Malaysia's Sepang circuit that produced competitive timings on his return to Yamaha.
The nine times world champion, whose two year spell at Ducati yielded a paltry three podiums, added he was eager to make up for lost time as he reunites with his former bitter rival Jorge Lorenzo of Spain.
"The first test for us is so positive. I had (initially) some doubt. I did not know how much competitive I can be. But now we can fight for some important results," he said.
Rossi kept himself in the top group with a third placed finish, 0.442 seconds behind Dani Pedrosa who remained the fastest rider on 2 minutes 00.100 seconds. Lorenzo was second while Honda's MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez fourth.
Rossi said while he had to improve his riding skills on the much faster M1, the bike itself had the potential to ensure him victories following the strong and consistent lap times during testing.
"I can start the championship with the target to fight Lorenzo and Pedrosa," adding that he was inspired "one thousands times more than in the last two years.
"Before you know you can only fight for the maximum sixth place," he added.
Rossi, 33-years-old, said Lorenzo, the reigning champion who also won in 2010, had a good shot for the championship title.
"For me, I think he is perfect. He is very fast in all conditions. He is very fast from the beginning. He never makes mistakes and has a high level of concentration. He is at the top," he said.
Lorenzo on Wednesday vowed to work with his former rival Rossi.
The pair had a bitter relationship when Lorenzo joined Yamaha in 2008. Rossi, who won four world championships with Yamaha, left to join the Italian team Ducati in 2010.
The second test session will be held at Sepang from February 26 to 28, while the third session will be held in Jerez from March 23 to 25.
The opening round of the MotoGP world championship will be in Qatar under floodlights on April 7. Malaysia will host round 15 on October 13.