Valentino Rossi barely gave himself time to let his seventh MotoGP world title success sink in when his thoughts turned to mounting a successful defence in 2010.
The Italian, who clinched the ’09 crown with third in a rain-hit Sepang race in Malaysia, admitted that he expects an even tougher challenge next season.
But the 30-year-old, who is will be riding for his 15th season in world championship racing next year, said he will be ready for the threat posed by Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, resurgent factory Ducati star Casey Stoner and Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.
“I think next year will be very, very hard. We're all on the same bikes and I think it will be between me, Lorenzo, Stoner and Pedrosa again. On Tuesday in Valencia we will try the new bike and I am looking forward to working on the new M1, but I have the greatest rival in my team so it won't be easy," said Rossi.
Rossi though reckons he will be as motivated as ever to try and retain his title and send his world championship tally into double figures.
"I still feel just as motivated as ever. I still have a great passion to ride better and better, to be on my bike and to win. I enjoy always trying to improve and to work with my team to do this.
"I am 30 but I still feel great emotion and great satisfaction from success. My passion for motorcycles is what keeps me enjoying every race and helps me to keep pushing even though I am the eldest of these first top guys.
"I have to train harder and work harder to stay focused now, but I still enjoy the challenge as much as ever. In the past the situation was the opposite and I was a lot younger than my rivals and it was also easier," said Rossi, who kicked off a historic weekend for Yamaha which saw the Japanese factory complete the triple crown of MotoGP, World Superbike and World Supersport championships.