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Rossi has Hayden in his sights

Valentino Rossi has championship leader Nicky Hayden firmly in his sights as he targets his sixth straight MotoGP crown.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2006 01:31 IST

Valentino Rossi has championship leader Nicky Hayden firmly in his sights as he targets his sixth straight MotoGP crown.

With his Yamaha team firing on all cylinders again after a sluggish start the Italian motorcycling ace has eaten into Hayden's lead, taking 39 points from the last four races to sit just 12 points off the American.

And speaking Tuesday Rossi, 27, was in confident mood ahead of the season enders at Estoril and Valencia, telling the BBC's official website: "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 (in Portugal)."

Rossi's game of catch-up mirrors the fireworks setting Formula One alight with Michael Schumacher's late charge after a slow start placing him to within 10 points of defending champion Fernando Alonso going into the finale in Brazil on October 22.

The London-based Rossi, who had flirted with the idea of joining Ferrari next season before electing to stick to two wheels, added: "Since Brno, when we finally understood everything about what we needed to do to make our bike work at 100 percent 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.

"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."