Valentino Rossi targets strong Yamaha finish

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Having won 46 races in a glittering MotoGP career for Yamaha, Valentino Rossi is determined to bow out in style for the Japanese factory before he moves to Ducati early next month.

The 31-year-old is hoping for success in the final two races in Estoril and Valencia to end a Yamaha career that started in glorious fashion in South Africa back in 2004 on a high.

Rossi enjoyed a brilliant run of form during the recent flyaway triple-header, the highlight of which was a stunning surge from 11th to win the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

He also claimed third place in Japan and Australia with brilliant last lap overtakes and heading into this weekend’s penultimate round in Portugal he said: “The flyaways were very good for us, three podiums including one win – we were happy with how much we had improved the bike and also the level of my shoulder.

“Now we return to Europe and I feel very strongly that I want to enjoy these final two races and try to win again.

“Estoril was not a good track for me last year, we had some problems and I couldn’t make it onto the podium so we will be trying to change that this year.”

Standing in Rossi’s way at Estoril this weekend will be Fiat Yamaha team-mate and new world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

The Spaniard has dominated at Estoril in 2008 and ’09 and is confident he can claim a third straight win on Sunday.

The 23-year-old said: “I’ve had some of my best moments in MotoGP in the last two seasons at Estoril. I had never won there before in 125 or 250, but since 2008 I have had two victories.

“It’s the only one place where I’ve won twice in this category! I like the Estoril track and I always seem to feel so good there. Also it always seems a bit like another Spanish GP.

“Many people from home are coming and I am looking forward to feeling their support, because it’s the first time I’ve ridden so close to home since becoming world champion.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt