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

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Motogp Preview - By Si­mon Patterson MO­TOGP REPORTER

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.”

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