IS THIS ROSSI’S LAST CHANCE?
The Italian legend may be the oldest rider on the grid but if his pre-season pace is anything to go by he’s not about to hang up his leathers – in fact he’s ready and willing to fight for title number 10 Continued over
t’s hard to question that 2015 was a very special year for Rossi. He won races, beat Marquez, battled with Lorenzo and took the title race down to a dramatic final round showdown in Valencia. He showed beyond reasonable doubt that, even at 36 years old, he could still fight for a title and it’s unlikely he’ll be thinking any differently on the eve of the 2016 season.
His breathtaking 2015 highlighted that he has lost none of his desire to succeed and it’s clear that his thirst for success remains unquenchable. Ultimately the title fight came down to Rossi and Lorenzo, but the way they constructed their respective seasons was very different.
While eventual champion Lorenzo was blisteringly fast on a good day, he had enough bad days to balance it out and ensure that Rossi was still in with a chance right up to the end.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the garage, Rossi took the tortoise approach to the Spaniard’s hare,
Iusing the momentum from his opening race win in Qatar 12 months ago to keep up a solid tally of podiums throughout the season, consistently building points to maintain a lead.
And while some of his opposition, such as Ducati and Suzuki, have made significant progress over the winter, the continuing struggles of Honda may well give the Doctor the opportunity he needs to get his season off to a winning start once again.
Speaking to MCN, Rossi said: “In the tests the other bikes have improved a lot. In Sepang the gap was bigger, but now the gap is smaller, the others are closing. It will be very tough this week in Qatar, but the good news for us is that we are competitive, the bike is good, and the Michelins work well for us.
“As always, in the race everything can change, because there’s a lot of different factors around. But we hope to be ready, and the good thing is that our bike has been competitive at all three of the tracks we’ve tested at. I think a lot of riders can be fast for the first Grand Prix fo 2016, but we know we are competitive.”