The Italian and team-mate Maverick Vinales have struggled this season on the factory YZR-M1, with Yamaha’s winless run stretching back to Rossi’s last premier class victory at Assen in 2017.
However, the Australian circuit has normally been a happy hunting ground for Yamaha and Rossi is hopeful that trend will continue.
The man they call “The Doctor” has secured numerous trophies at the Phillip Island venue and his experience will certainly come in handy during this weekend’s battle. In the premier class the nine-time World Champion has won at the Australian track from 2001 until 2005 and scored an additional victory in 2014, he claimed second place in 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017, and scored five third places in total, in 2000, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2013.
“I think that Phillip Island is one of the best circuits during the season for everybody, for more or less every rider. It is very important, the weather, because always here you have to struggle a bit, so we hope that we can have good weather, especially for Sunday,” he said.
“Last year I was quite strong and we had both Yamahas on the podium, so it looks like the track is good. But every year is a bit different so we have to see from tomorrow morning and try to work because here in Phillip Island, it is very important to have a good balance that you can ride with the bike in a good way, because it is very fast with long corners. We will see if we can be competitive to fight for the podium.”
At the pre-event press conference on Thursday, the nine-time world champion was asked to explain why Phillip Island was such a popular circuit on the MotoGP calendar for the riders.
Rossi, who is fourth in the championship and only nine points behind Andrea Dovizioso in second, said: “For me, Phillip Island is really different, the only one like this. Yes, in another track you are fast in the average speed, but here you are very fast in the corners because they are long, long corners. Also, you have a lot of change of direction with the high speed, so it is a big effort physically.
“The track is mainly on the left, but the track is also fast on the right, so you have to manage also the tyre, the temperature of the tyre, and it is very much up and down – not a lot of braking – so it is a particular circuit.”
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