Rossi raring to go, Lorenzo favourite as MotoGP battle resumes
Valentino Rossi is ready to let his racing do the talking as he attempts to make up for the disappointment of missing out on the MotoGP title last season, but Jorge Lorenzo is favourite to retain his crown in 2016.
Lorenzo was crowned 2015 champion in a dramatic end to the season after his Yamaha team-mate Rossi had appeared on course for an eighth title in the premier class.
But while Lorenzo was able to celebrate taking a third MotoGP title, it was the feud between Rossi and Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez that dominated the headlines in the climax to a gripping 2015 campaign.
Rossi said his relationship with Marquez can "never be recovered" following an incident at the Malaysian Grand Prix which proved to be costly for the Italian.
The 37-year-old started the penultimate round of the season in Sepang with an 11-point gap over Lorenzo, but was hit with a penalty which saw him start the season-ending round at the back of the grid after being adjudged to have purposely kicked Marquez off his bike.
Lorenzo won the final race in Valencia, with Rossi finishing fourth.
But Rossi is eager to put the episode behind him ahead of the 2016 season, which starts in Qatar this weekend.
"Finally we start talking about racing. I'm very glad that a new season begins. Our tests were definitely positive, but the race [in Qatar] is another thing," Rossi said.
"During testing we've learned a lot about the new tyres and electronics, but there are many other things to discover and this first race will be really important to understand the real potential of the bikes and the riders.
"Last season for me began very well. I don't know if I will be able to repeat that result but I will try to get on the podium for sure. It will be important to start to work well from the first sessions and get ready and have clear ideas going into the race.
"I feel ready and motivated and so does the team, so let's go."
Lorenzo made a statement when he set the pace on the final day of testing in Qatar and the champion is eager to carry on where he left off.
He said: "The season is finally about to start, and I'm looking forward to it.
"This year there are a few variables that aren't yet completely predictable, such as tyre wear at race distance, for example, and the bike's behaviour with the new electronics.
"Still, Honda never cease to work hard, as is the case for me and the whole team, so I'm positive and look forward to the action starting."