Rossi eyes history as MotoGP title fight recommences at Indy

Valentino Rossi (front) carries a 13-point advantage into the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Valentino Rossi is just nine races away from the moment he hopes will define his stellar career – a historic eighth MotoGP World Championship, an unprecedented achievement in global motorsport.

Rossi, 36, leads the championship going into Sunday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix and is locked in a fierce title battle with Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

Rossi won the first of his seven premier class tiles 14 years ago in 2001 on a 500cc Honda NSR.

After a summer vacation, the Brickyard race is the 10th of the 18-race season with Rossi reckoning he will be boosted by a group of circuits on which he performs strongly. In 2014 Rossi scored eight podium and two wins (Misano and Phillip Island) in the second half of the season. He now believes a repeat of that form can be the platform for his title aspirations, although he is wary of the ever-present challenge of Lorenzo and Honda rival Marc Marquez.

"Last year I did a very good second half of the season, but this year I think I am stronger because the Yamaha M1 is better, so I think I can fight for the title," Rossi said. "I think that now there are three tracks where Jorge and Marc are strong – Indy, Brno and Silverstone – but also where I had good races last year.

"Misano I like very much and also the tracks at the end of the season like Phillip Island and Sepang. So I think it is equal and will be very interesting because every weekend is different and some small things that can move the balance between one rider and another."

Rossi started the season in stunning style with an epic win in Qatar and has maintained the momentum ever since, despite the disappointment of missing victory at his home Italian GP.

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"The best race for me was the victory in Qatar, the first one, because it was a great race and I enjoyed a lot the last lap and the victory," Rossi said. "It was a great battle in the last laps (against Dovizioso’s Ducati) and I didn’t know if I was able to win, so that was the best moment. To win the first race is important.

"The worst moment so far was Mugello. It was the race where we didn’t work at the maximum and especially I wasn’t able to ride at 100 percent. And it was also Mugello, which is important for me."

Rossi sits on 179 point after winning three of the opening nine races, with Lorenzo (166) taking four and Marquez (114) just two. Lorenzo trails his teammate by just 13 points, while Marquez is much further behind (-65).