Valentino Rossi’s brilliant victory challenge in the season’s opening MotoGP race in Qatar proves that the Italian is a genuine title contender in 2014, according to Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis.
The 35-year-old was a close second to reigning world champion Marc Marquez in an enthralling opening to the 2014 campaign under the Losail International Circuit floodlights in Doha.
One of Rossi’s best races of 2013 was his fight with Marquez for second position in Qatar and many thought that would be the catalyst for him to embark on a challenge for an incredible 10th world title.
But he found it difficult to recapture that form for much of his return campaign to Yamaha and despite a memorable win in Assen, he scored only four podium finishes.
After a positive winter testing campaign, Rossi is convinced he will pose a stronger threat to dominant Spanish trio Marquez, factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, who between them won 17 out of 18 races last season.
And if he is to convince himself that retirement isn’t his next big career move, then he will need to capitalise on last weekend’s victory challenge in forthcoming races in Austin, Argentina, Jerez and Le Mans.
Yamaha boss Jarvis is in doubt that Rossi’s potential is higher this season and he told MCN: “Frankly, I think he'll be looking to capitalise on this as much as anyone. Last year he was coming from two difficult years at Ducati and he was happy to be back home. Now he knows he is at home and he wants to win. He has come into this season giving his absolute maximum concentration and attention to detail and we have seen the results. I don't think we will see the same dip as last year. I believe Valentino will be there. His ambition is no doubt to go for the championship and we've seen he was a very close second to Marc, so based on that he is absolutely a title contender.”