Phillip Island track a boost for Rossi

Championship leader Valentino Rossi will call on his extensive experience at his happy hunting ground at Phillip Island as he attempts to widen the gap between himself and Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the MotoGP standings.

Just 18 points separate the Movistar Yamaha teammates with three races left in the series but the Italian six-time MotoGP world champion has a stunning record at the picturesque Australian circuit.

Across all classes, Rossi has stood on the podium 15 times from 18 visits to the island over his illustrious career, with eight of those finishing in victories.

“Eighteen points can be a good advantage but it can also become a very small advantage,” Rossi said on Thursday.

“We have three races (to go) but now this track, which I like very much, has great memories in the past.

“But as always all the riders are very strong, especially Jorge who is also very fast here.

“Tomorrow we’ll start another battle. “Practice will be so important because Phillip Island is always a tricky race track to find the right balance with the bike and the right settings.

“Also the weather is so important – it changes a lot of times. We hope for a dry race, but the wind is always strong, so in good conditions this is one of the best tracks of the season but with bad weather it’s very difficult.”

With reigning world champion Marc Marquez a long way adrift in third place, the battle for this year’s title is down to the two Yamaha teammates, who have shared a tense rivalry at times.

Lorenzo’s championship aspirations suffered a blow in last week’s Japanese MotoGP when he gave up a big lead in wet conditions to finish third behind winner Dani Pedrosa and Rossi.

The Spaniard took the chequered flag at the 2013 Australian MotoGP and knows he must replicate that feat this weekend as the championship race enters its closing stages.

“A lot has happened this year but now it comes to the final races and we must win if we want to recover those points,” Lorenzo said.

“I want to have the chance to be world champion – this is the goal that we have – but we aren’t very focused just on the result. We are focused to keep working in the same way that we have been. If we can do that we’re going to be fast and consistent.”

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