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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Rossi confident of victory charge
Valentino Rossi
Rossi is in confident mood as the season draws to a climax
World champion Valentino Rossi believes he is well-placed to catch Nicky Hayden at the top of the MotoGP championship with just two races left of the season.

A fine run of form has seen the Italian win 39 points from the last four races to move to within 12 points of Hayden.

And, speaking ahead of this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix, the 27-year-old said: "We're as strong as our rivals.

"The motivation and concentration in the team is the best in the paddock. We will be fighting for the podium."

Rossi, aiming for his sixth straight premier-class title, added: "Since Brno, when we finally understood everything about what we needed to do to make our bike work at 100% again, we've been very strong everywhere and on the podium each time.

When we've started from the front lately we've been on the podium each time, so we have to carry on like this

Valentino Rossi

"Of course we know we could have won more if we'd been like this earlier in the season but we can't do anything about that.

"We know our potential and when we've started from the front lately we've been on the podium each time, so we have to carry on like this."

However, Rossi is aware that Hayden could still clinch the title at Estoril if he fails to perform.

"We have two difficult tracks coming up in Portugal and Valencia, but I think our M1 bike can be fast at both of them.

"I actually like Portugal. It's twisty but we can go well there. I hope that it will be a bit warmer, won't rain, and that we can find a good tyre with Michelin."

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