MOTEGI, Apr 27 – World motorcycling champion Valentino Rossi says he is gunning to get his championship ambitions back on course in Europe after two chaotic season-opening races in Japan and Qatar."This weekend was crazy, worse than Qatar," the 30-year-old Italian said after coming a close second behind Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo at Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix for his second straight runner-up finish.
"I hope for great weather and a good show," the eight-time world champion said about the next MotoGP race — the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez on Sunday — after rain played havoc with the first two rounds.
"We are very strong on the track. It is always great fun riding in Jerez," Rossi said. "So in just seven days, I’ll try another time."
Ducati’s 2007 world champion Casey Stoner of Australia won his third straight Qatar GP two weeks ago after the race was pushed back one day by a rare rainstorm.
Then more heavy downpours hampered free practice and washed out the qualifying session completely here.
Rossi took pole position because he was the fastest in Friday practice, and although more rain fell on Sunday morning, it was mostly dry for the race itself.
"We have had the same issue as everybody else, I suppose, in that we haven’t had time to set up the bike," Stoner said after finishing fourth here, fighting back from seventh position despite a strong vibration from his front brake.
"The race was not completely lost, we didn’t lose that many points. So we can definitely feel positive going into the next one," said the 23-year-old.
The Motegi result put Lorenzo at the top of the MotoGP standings with 41 points, one better than Rossi and three ahead of Stoner.
It was the 21-year-old Spaniard’s second MotoGP victory since one in Portugal one year ago right after he stepped up from the 250cc class where he was two-time champion.
Lorenzo was expecting a warm welcome back home in Spain.
"Jerez is unbelievable as we all know. All the people there have warm hearts and they are very passionate about the Spanish riders," the Mallorcan native told motogp.com.
"I think if there is one track where you should take a risk to win, it is there."
Honda rider Dani Pedrosa won his home Grand Prix at Jerez last year, with Rossi second and Lorenzo third.
Pedrosa, recovering from a knee injury and winless in 13 races, said Jerez was usually an "amazing race."
"Everybody likes it and, of course, Spanish riders like it even more," said the 23-year-old. "We did a good job last year. I hope this year we can also make a good race."
In pre-season testing at Jerez last month Rossi and Lorenzo topped the timesheets on the first day, before Stoner made amends in the following sessions.
"I think this championship will become very interesting because four riders are ready to battle for the win at the end," Rossi said.