Valentino Rossi is hoping he can notch a first MotoGP podium at Phillip Island since 2010 this weekend after being returned to fourth position behind dominant Spanish trio Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa in Malaysia.
The Italian has finished five out of the last six races in 2013 in fourth position, which included the Sepang clash last Sunday.
Rossi was boosted though by the fact that he finished just over three seconds behind factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo in the sizzling Sepang heat.
And that has boosted his confidence that he can be a rosturm threat for the first time in Phillip Island since he was third behind Casey Stoner and Lorenzo in 2010.
Before his disastrous switch to Ducati in 2011, Rossi had scored an incredible 13 successive podium finishes at Phillip Island, including seven victories in 250s and MotoGP.
Rossi, who last won at Phillip Island in 2005, said: “The podium is my target. Why not? I have to continue in the current way. The Hondas were very fast in Sepang but I was just three seconds behind Jorge, so maybe the Hondas can have some problem and if I can stay close to Jorge it means I can be on the podium."
This weekend’s Australian Grand Prix will see a new winner for the first time 2007, with retired Stoner preparing to watch the action from trackside after dominating his home race for six years in succession.
Sunday’s 27-lap race is the first opportunity for Marquez to wrap up a fairy tale first premier class title.
Marquez is 43-points clear of reigning world champion Lorenzo and if he scores eight points more than his compatriot he will become the first rookie since Kenny Roberts in 1978 to capture the MotoGP crown.
Rossi added: “Marc is 43-points ahead with three races left, so he could win it in Phillip Island but I think Jorge will not give up until the end. Phillip Island is another world too because the track and conditions are very different so maybe it will be very cold and not hot.”