Rossi Excited for MotoGP Opener | Qatar

World Champion feels that not all his cards have yet been shown.

Valentino Rossi begins the defence of his MotoGP World Championship this weekend, and the Fiat Yamaha rider is in high spirits ahead of the first race of the year. Rival Casey Stoner may seem to have the beating of him at the Losail International Circuit, but Rossi has a strong belief in his Yamaha M1 and is sure to have a strategy in mind for the season-opener.

"Qatar isn’t one of our strongest tracks but we still have a few cards to play and I hope that a little more work will see us improve for the first race," says the man who won at Losail in 2005 & 2006. "Tests really mean nothing once you get to racing, the situation is totally different and really we have little idea what will happen until we get there, it’s very exciting!"

"I’m feeling confident, we’re in good shape even if we’re going to what was our worst track during testing, but I am happy about the performance of my M1 in general; Yamaha have done a great job and so this makes me happy."

The final preseason test of the year in Jerez gave a glimpse of what qualifying will be like following the implementation of a single tyre supplier rule, in the BMW M Award shootout won by Stoner. Rossi is expecting the true effects of the rule change to become apparent over the course of the year, particularly following the first race this weekend.

"With the new rules the tactics will become clearer race by race. I think a lot of new factors will come into play and strategy is going to be quite important to determine where you start the race. I think luck will also be a factor in qualifying, more so than previously! In fact, I am quite curious to see what will happen in a 45 minute race with so few tyres, it’s going to be interesting."

Rossi finished fifth at last year’s Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, one of only two occasions that he did not place on the podium in 2008.

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