Italian superstar Valentino Rossi will begin his final push towards a historic eighth MotoGP world title here Sunday at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, where the championship resumes after a mid-season break.
Nine more races stand between the 36-year-old Yamaha rider and a record eighth world crown, and a refreshed Rossi is brimming with confidence after recharging his batteries with a summer vacation.
"I`m ready to start racing again," Rossi said.
"I had a few days of rest, I went on holiday with my friends and I also trained.
"There are another nine races waiting for us and each of these will be very important for the championship."
Rossi is locked in a fierce battle at the top of the championship standings with Jorge Lorenzo, leading his Yamaha teammate with 179 points to 166 after nine rounds that have yielded nine podium finishes.
However, Indianapolis`s challenging Brickyard circuit has rarely been a happy hunting ground for Rossi, who has posted just one win at the track in his glittering career, way back in 2008.
Last year, Rossi finished third as Spanish Honda rider Marc Marquez took the honors for the fourth consecutive year.
Lorenzo is also bracing for another challenging test on the Brickyard.
"Usually Indy is not one of my favourite tracks but I`ve won there in the past," Lorenzo said.
"Last year, the tarmac improved a lot but its layout is different to that of other circuits.
"We are feeling very positive and hopefully we can fight in the best way possible with Valentino and Marc."
Reigning world champion Marquez, meanwhile, is gunning for a fifth consecutive win on US soil after winning at Indianapolis`s grueling 4.2 kilometer circuit for the past four years.
Marquez, who spent part of his summer break in Ibiza, heads into the Indy GP buoyed by a victory in Germany last month.
He is currently languishing well down the championship standings, fully 65 points adrift of Rossi with 114.
However both Rossi and Lorenzo are mindful of how Marquez reeled off 10 straight wins at the start of last year`s championship and continue to see the Spaniard as a potential threat.
"I think he is able to win a lot of races in a row as he demonstrated last year," Lorenzo said.
"With nine races to the end, he can recover a lot of points or we can make mistakes. So for sure he`s one of the favorites."
Marquez also bullishly believes the deficit is not insurmountable.
"Of course 65 points are a lot, but you know I lose the first part of the season -- maybe they will lose the second part of the season," he said, referring to Rossi and Lorenzo.
"I know it is a big distance but we will try to focus like the last two races."