Valentino Rossi predicts tough 2010 fight

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Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi reckons his quest for a tenth world title in 2010 will be one of the toughest of his illustrious career.

Speaking on the eve of the first race in Qatar, the 31-year-old said he expected a fierce challenge from the likes of factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and Ducati star Casey Stoner during the 18-round series.

Rossi was in ominous form throughout winter testing and never finished outside of the top two on the timesheets on the impressive new factory YZR-M1 machine.

The Italian said: “The first motivation is always great rivals and trying to beat the other guys. In these last two seasons I’ve enjoyed it a lot, having some great battles.

"On paper also this year it will be the same, because all the other top riders are in a good shape with good performances in the test.”

Rossi said his motivation was stronger than ever as he prepares to embark on his 15th world championship campaign having won the title in 2008 and ’09.

The seven-times MotoGP world champion added: “Another season starts and it is always a good feeling and very exciting. I think anyway we work well and I was quite fast here and also in Sepang, so it looks like the new bike is already quite good.

"Starting from tomorrow is another story. The races are different, but I think we are ready.”

Rossi has raved about the performance of his YZR-M1 machine during winter testing and he touched on some of the improvements made by the Japanese factory again today at the Losail International Circuit.

Rossi added: “We’ve improved our bike. We try to work on the engine for the new rules and the feeling is positive. We try to modify also something in the weight in the chassis for a better grip and the bike work very well in Sepang and Qatar.

"So this is positive, because especially here in Qatar last year we had some problem and this time I think it's possible to make a bit better.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt