Rossi confident in bid to end Italian GP drought


Valentino Rossi is confident his Movistar Yamaha is in prime shape to help him end an eight-year drought at the Italian Grand Prix.

The Italian will benefit from the full backing of a passionate home crowd when he takes to the famous Mugello track for round six of the MotoGP championship this weekend.

Rossi delighted the Italian fans with seven consecutive victories at the circuit between 2002 and 2008, but he has failed to top the podium since.

However, the 37-year-old is in good form having finished runner-up in Le Mans last time out and, even though he admits it is added pressure riding at home, Rossi is in optimistic mood.

"I love Mugello and its atmosphere. It's very difficult for me to keep my concentration here because there are always so many of my friends and fans around, but the Mugello race is also special for me for that reason," he said. 

"I've had some victories here, many great battles and a lot of good memories. I think this year we can be competitive because our bike is good and I'm getting into a good shape. 

"At the Le Mans GP we arrived late at achieving the right set up for the race, at Mugello we will not make this mistake again. 

"After Le Mans I'm relaxed and now I'm ready to try to attain the maximum level of concentration for the Mugello GP."

Jorge Lorenzo is the man to beat, though. The defending champion, who lead the riders' standings, triumphed in Le Mans last time out and has a fine record at Mugello.

The Spaniard has prevailed in four of the last five races there, while he has not finished outside of the top two since 2009.

"We arrive in Mugello with the great satisfaction of the last race in France," the Yamaha rider said.

"At Le Mans we got an important victory and we are leading the championship so we are pretty motivated for the coming races, especially the one in Mugello, a track that I usually enjoy a lot and where I've had some fun in the past. 

"It's one of my favourite places to ride and one of the most beautiful tracks in the world."

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), second in the standings, will hope to bounce back after a crash in France that led to him placing 13th.

This week in MotoGP saw plenty of rider line-up changes for next season. Maverick Vinales will ride alongside Rossi at Yamaha following Lorenzo's switch to Ducati.

That in turn meant there was no place for Andrea Iannone at Ducati and he has agreed a move to Suzuki.