Valentino Rossi is targeting a podium on his long awaited return on the Yamaha M1 in Qatar in just over three months time.
The nine times world champion is currently fufilling his Yamaha PR work with an Asian tour, and he is optimistic about what lay ahead.
Gazettadellosport caught up with the Doctor during the PR event, and Rossi seems very focused with what is in store for 2013.
When asked about his age (he turns 34 in February) Rossi doesn’t see it as a major factor. “I’m reaching a certain age, but I feel good, motivated, and eager. I know it will be difficult after two negative years, but I’m ready. With Yamaha I’ll be better.”
He is also happy with the bike he will be climbing aboard, despite just a hand full of wet laps at the end of season test in Valencia.
“When I tested at the end of the season, I was immediately comfortable. It has improved a lot in acceleration. The engine is now 1000, but you can feel the progress. It’ll be difficult, Honda is motivated and in the last races was strong, but the M1 is competitive.”
When the inevitable team mate questions arose, Rossi was asked if it would be better this team with the duo knowing each other. “Better to know each other. We’re both older now and know what to expect. He has an uncomfortable team mate, but so do I. Even if we had problems sharing a garage last time, we won everything,” replied the Doctor.
He was also asked how he will can beat his team mate, who since last time has claimed two of the three world titles.
“It’ll be hard. His strongest point is that he understands the positive aspects of the Yamaha. He’s the one that rides it the best. I’ll have to take it slowly and more than looking at him, I’ll have to set-up the bike, my team has to be ready, and I have to get on the podium. It will take time to beat Lorenzo: at the start he’ll be faster.”
‘If you don’t win a GP race will it be a big let down?’ A question on everybody’s lips, and the Doctor agrees with the general consensus of fans.
“Yes. The objective is that victory that I haven’t had since 2010. Even if I don’t win, but I’m on the podium every Sunday would be still fine. But a victory is the game changer.”
Although Rossi isn’t getting ahead of himself, and keeping his ambitions fairly low for the season ahead after the harrowing years on the Ducati. “I’d like to have a lot of podiums … at least 10 and finish in the top three.”
It finally ended with a simple question, ‘Where do you see yourself in Qatar?’ Rossi as simple with his reply as the question presented to him. “On the podium. Even if I’m not competitive against Lorenzo and Pedrosa, we can’t be far behind. And then we have to see what Marquez does.”