Bengaluru, April 5: One can never write off Valentino Rossi. Even at the age of 39, 'The Doctor', as he is known among his peers, shines bright just like the fluorescent yellow No 46 on his Yamaha bike.
Prior to the start of the 2018 FIM MotoGP World Championship series, the Italian ended speculation about his future by signing a two-year contract extension with Movistar Yamaha and celebrated it in style by finishing third in the season opener under lights at the Losail circuit in Qatar recently.
As the MotoGP caravan moves to Argentina for the second race of the season on Sunday (April 8), Rossi is high on confidence and full of energy.
The MotoGP legend is a big hit among the Argentinian crowd and their cheers have spurred him on to claim several podium finishes.
The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit has virtually been a happy hunting ground with him winning there in 2015 and finishing second in the subsequent two years.
"I like the track and usually our bike works well there. It could be a surprising weekend, but I hope to be strong," said Rossi , who is raring to go at the Argentina GP.
Last year Yamaha achieved a 1-2 at Argentina with Maverick Vinales winning the race and Rossi playing second fiddle.
Expectations are high from the Yamaha duo this time as well, but much has changed since that with his main rivals -- world champion Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda and Ducati's ever-improving Andrea Dovizioso -- catching up and Rossi was quick to admit that.
"Last year we were very strong in Argentina. We came first and second and I think it was the best race of our team that season. But since then the balance of the rider field has changed - our rivals are stronger now. It will be a hard fight," added Rossi.
As the Yamaha duo crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the Argentina GP, Team Director Massimo Meregalli also sounded upbeat about the chances.
"Termas de Río Hondo Circuit is a good circuit for us usually. It suits our YZR-M1 bike, and both of our riders like the track. Last year's 1-2 finish by Maverick (Vinales) and Vale (Rossi) makes us all the more excited to start working towards another strong result this weekend."
(With Yamaha inputs)