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Rossi buoyed by Qatar test pace

Valentino Rossi said that being on the pace at traditional Ducati and Casey Stoner stronghold Losail this week made him even more confident for the 2010 MotoGP season

The reigning champion was fastest on Thursday in Qatar - where Stoner has won for the past three years - and although he was half a second behind the Ducati on Friday evening, on combined times his day one benchmark remained only a tenth of a second down on Stoner's best of the week.

Rossi had also topped all four days of testing at Sepang last month, but reckoned his pace at Losail was particularly significant given his recent lack of success at the track.

"Now that testing is over I am very excited about the season," he said. "We've been strong throughout the six days of practice and it feels good to have been fast here also, where we have struggled in the past."

Team boss Davide Brivio agreed that the Qatar result was a real boost for Yamaha.

"We're really happy about this final test," he said. "Although we were fast in Sepang we didn't know what to expect here but we found that we were quick here as well - more than a second faster than last year in fact and this is encouraging."

Rossi pointed out that he had not been trying for flat-out lap times on Friday, when Stoner edged ahead.

"We've concentrated mostly on the race preparation and it feels like we're now ready for the first race," said Rossi. "We did a long run at the end of the session and we got some good information, which will help us in the race."

But he warned that with the testing cuts this winter meaning no one had run anywhere other than Sepang and Losail, he could not be too confident about Yamaha's form even though he had led five of the six days of testing.

"We have only tested at two tracks so we need to wait for another different one to fully understand the new bike, but we're in good shape," Rossi said. "My M1 feels great and I'm looking forward to racing."

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