Valentino Rossi believes that he is stronger and more competitive than last season, in which he narrowly missed out on his eighth MotoGP crown.
The Movistar Yamaha rider has enjoyed a successful season, apart from retirements in America and Italy, and has triumphed in two races including the most recent event in Catalunya.
With the Dutch TT this weekend at Assen, Rossi is determined to maintain his good run of form and claim his second consecutive win.
“The important thing is to be strong and fast on Sunday afternoon at 2pm,” he told reporters. “This is what I’ve been thinking all my career.
“Last year I fought for the championship to the last race but sometimes in the race I wasn’t fast like [Jorge] Lorenzo and [Marc] Marquez.
“This year it looks like I’m stronger even if it looks like I have less points. It’s a good moment, I like my bike, the Yamaha is very competitive, I like a lot the Michelin tyre because it’s something I used a lot growing up, so it’s something very familiar.”
Rossi currently sits in third place on the MotoGP standings and trails leader by Marquez 22 points. Despite this, the 37-year-old acknowledged that the fight to secure big points will only get harder, especially as Ducati and Suzuki are starting to make their presence felt.
“I think that this championship, every race it becomes more open, more difficult to understand, more interesting,” he said. “I think we are there at the same level, very fast like Marquez and Lorenzo, but at the same time also [Dani] Pedrosa, [Maverick] Vinales and [Andrea] Iannone are very strong.
“It will be very important on the race track, sometimes our bike is better, sometimes Honda is better, sometimes other riders are faster.
“But there is still 11 races to go, so the important thing is to work and try the maximum.”