Valentino Rossi says he's itching to get back on his bike and return to racing in Qatar this week following a busy winter testing programme.
The Movistar Yamaha rider was somewhat cautious about his prospects at the Losail International Circuit, admitting there was still work to be done with the factory YZR-M1, but he is confident he will be ready for the opening race on Sunday.
The season will kick off under the floodlights at the desert venue.
“I'm very happy that the season finally starts. It's been a busy winter, challenging, and now I really need to race,” Rossi said.
“Our bike has improved a lot during the winter and, although we are not yet OK, we will work hard during the next few days in Qatar to be ready for the start of the first race of the season.
“We will see what the weather conditions will be like and then we will try to find the best set-up possible. I'm confident that together with the team we will be ready for Sunday.”
Rossi could only finished fourth in Qatar last year, but has a superb overall record at Losail, winning four times (2005, 2006, 2010 and 2015) and finishing runner-up on a further four occasions (2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014).