Rossi needs Rainey/Doohan repeat
One year ago, Valentino Rossi edged inevitably towards his fifth consecutive MotoGP title with victory at Brno in the Czech Republic - but returns next weekend with the 2006 world crown almost completely out of reach.
After clocking his third DNF of the season - all tyre or engine related - last time out at Laguna Seca, Rossi starts the final six races of 2006 just fourth in the championship and a massive 51 points from series leader Nicky Hayden, with 150 points up for grabs.
It is an awesomely tough task to catch the Repsol Honda rider, but not totally impossible - as another Yamaha legend, Wayne Rainey, proved in 1992 when he pipped the injured Mick Doohan to the title despite lying 65 points behind with only five races remaining.
Nobody would want Hayden to suffer the kind of grisly injury that cost Doohan the crown (and almost his leg), but the reality is that Rossi needs some of his own bad luck to strike the Kentuckian if he is to catch the #69.
"This year I've had a lot of bad luck and Laguna could not have been worse, but now we have had twenty days of holiday to relax and forget about what happened there," said Rossi, who won his first ever 125cc grand prix at Brno in 1996. "Hopefully after this rest we can try to do something better in Brno. It isn't one of my favourite tracks but last year it was a great race for me; almost perfect, with the fastest lap and the victory. I know that everyone at Yamaha and Michelin has been working hard in the break and hopefully in Brno we can come out fighting on Friday morning and make the most of the weekend.
"I don't know what to say about the championship to be honest," he admitted. "We only have six races left which is maybe not enough to make up the difference but anyway I want to try to have some fun and win as much as possible. Right now I'm not even thinking about the championship. I want to take it race by race and try to find a better way forward with this bike and these tyres so I can have some fun and try to win some more races."
Camel Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio echoed Rossi's sentiments about the championship being a 'race by race' affair but outlined the determination of his staff to back up their world champion with 100% commitment until the end of the season – despite the odds being stacked against them.
"Brno is the start of the final stage of the season and we go into it finding ourselves in a difficult situation," said the Italian. "We are obviously not where we would like to be in the championship with six races to go but we will not give up and every member of the team is ready to fight until the end. Of course we still want to win the title and we still believe we can do it. We have had a lot of misfortune during the season but we still have faith in our potential.
"The break was good for everybody but after Laguna Seca we are looking forward to getting back on the track and trying to win races again. That is Valentino's goal for every grand prix between now and the end of the season," he confirmed.
Free practice for the Czech Republic Grand Prix takes place next Friday.