Assen MotoGP: 100th win not a distraction for Valentino Rossi

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Valentino Rossi insists he will not let the prospect of winning his 100th Grand Prix in Assen this weekend be a major distraction.

The Italian’s epic last corner victory over Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in the Catalunya GP earlier this month moved him to the brink of the century and a step closer to Giacomo Agostini’s all-time record of 122 wins.

Victory in Assen on Saturday would make Rossi only the second rider in history to notch 100 wins in an illustrious career that started in 1996.

The 30-year-old though has the more pressing matter of ensuring he stays firmly in contention for the 2009 MotoGP title. Rossi is locked in a thrilling title dice with Lorenzo and Ducati’s Casey Stoner.

All three will start Saturday’s 26-lap race tied on 106-points in the championship and Rossi said: “For sure 100 victories is important, but like I’ve said before, the important target is try to win the championship and thinking race by race. But for sure it’s a great number.

"I’m so happy already about 99 victories and to get 100 is a great motivation. But I have to think about the championship.”

Asked whether Rossi had given much thought to trying to surpass Agostini’s all-time winning record of 122, Rossi added: “It’s difficult because Giacomo is 122, so that’s 23 more victories for me.

"It’s a long way and I need a lot of time and maybe I don’t have enough. It depends on my motivation, my condition, and if I want to try to continue and if I’m able to stay at the top level.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt