Valentino Rossi is ready to go toe-to-toe with Marc Marquez – even though the nine-times world champion fears the Spanish sensation is unbeatable on current form.
Marquez heads to this weekend’s French Grand Prix in Le Mans seeking to extend an unbeaten record in a stunning 2014 campaign.
Marquez has not been defeated in four races so far and he also has a perfect record in qualifying to hold a commanding 28-point lead over Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
But Rossi, who finished second behind Marquez in the recent Jerez race, is optimistic about his chances of defeating the reigning world champion in the future.
The 2014 campaign is about to hit Le Mans and then come arguably Rossi’s three favourite tracks, including his home clash in Mugello, which is immediately followed by Catalunya and Assen.
Rossi has finished runner-up behind Marquez in Qatar and Jerez, but he is hoping his own improved feeling with the latest spec YZR-M1 will fire him close to the 21-year-old, who has been winning with relative ease.
Rossi told MCN: “I like Le Mans and I have had some good results in the past but then arrive the best tracks for me and the ones I was quite competitive at last year. I am quite confident that I can fight with everybody because I am faster this year and I hope also to fight with Marquez."
Rossi took his solitary win in 2013 at the legendary Assen track in Holland, but he is under no illusions at just how massive the task is to defeat mercurial Marquez in 2014.
The 35-year-old added: “It is bad to say unbeatable in sport but it is true at this moment Marquez is unbeatable because he has four poles and four victories but I will try to beat him."
There is no doubt that Rossi appears transformed from the Yamaha rider of 2013, who seemed to struggle to get over the hangover of a disastrous two-year stint with Ducati.
It took him time to adjust back to the YZR-M1 on which he finished fourth on in eight races and a controversial gamble to replace long-term crew Jerry Burgess with Silvano Galbusera appears to have paid off.
Rossi added: “I feel very good and I enjoy riding and now I can get good results. But it always depends on your speed on the track. When you are fast like Marquez your mental condition is very good. When you are slow like me with the Ducati, the mental condition is more difficult."