Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi has said it will take a ‘special effort’ to be in a position to challenge for the MotoGP crown this year.
remain at a level where he can fight for the MotoGP World Championship this year.
This year’s runner-up, who turns 37 next month, acknowledges the superhuman effort required to take on the much younger competition, and this, when combined with the new tyres and electronics being introduced this year, means the Italian will need to be at the very top of his game.
He said: “I think I have to give a special effort to try and stay at the same level of the last two years. This is the target because in the last two years, especially in 2015, I was competitive more or less everywhere. Whether we’ll be able to fight to win the championship I don’t know.
“Last year the start was fantastic; in the first part of the season I was ready to be very fast but you never know. This year it is like you start from another point because of the new tyres, everyone needs to understand what will happen in a race weekend and also in the race so it will be different and difficult but we will try to be ready from the beginning.
“When you become older you try to use your experience to bridge the gap. It is interesting but the feeling to race a motorcycle and also to work during the weekend has to be the same, you have to find the right motivation and the right concentration. The rivals are all very strong so it will be interesting.”
Rossi enters the upcoming season with his contract up for grabs, a fate all the Yamaha riders face. His main challengers are expected to be team-mate, and world champion, Jorge Lorenzo, and fierce rival Marc Marquez.
Rossi, ever the optimist, refused to be downbeat about his campaign last season, when he seemed to unravel following a bizarre press conference where he accused Marquez of wanting Lorenzo to win the title.
He said: “The end of last year was quite difficult but it is like it is. At the end I am happy about the 2015 season. I enjoyed it a lot and fought for the championship until the last race, the rest is the past. From today we will start with the new season from the beginning and it will be hard but I will try to stay at the same level.