He will step up a gear

The breakthrough: Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli showing off his first MotoGP trophy won at the Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno last August.

PETALING JAYA: Franco Morbidelli will raise the bar for his third season with Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT) after last year’s incredible success.

Morbidelli was the only Yamaha rider on the lowest A-spec bike but the Italian still got closer to the world title than any other satellite rider in the MotoGP era last season.

Morbidelli finished the 14-round campaign just 13 points behind Spaniard Joan Mir, who rides for the factory Suzuki team.

Mir wrapped up the world title chase at the penultimate round but it was still an exceptional display from Morbidelli who, like Mir, had not even finished on the podium before 2020.

Morbidelli admitted that he was disappointed to miss out on the title last season but has grown from the experience and is looking forward to his third season with the Malaysian team next month.

Morbidelli recorded three wins en route to finishing second behind Suzuki’s Mir.

“Well, 2020 was a great year.

“My personal target for this year is to get better, improve myself as a person, a rider and an athlete. I know it will be difficult because last year we were quite fast, made great strides and achieved great results.

“I felt slightly frustrated at the end of last year as I was so close to the championship.

“I want to start with the knowledge that I can win the championship. But MotoGP is a jungle and it is full of angry animals, so it’s going to be a tough battle, ” said Morbidelli, who has been working on his fitness and focus ahead of the new season.

Morbidelli is looking to partnering nine-time world champion rider and mentor Valentino Rossi where he hopes to learn from his illustrious fellow Italian.

“We have enjoyed a strong relationship for many years and we will learn a lot from each other.

“I am sure that fighting for Petronas Yamaha SRT with, and against, Vale will be one of the most important and joyful challenges of my career.

“This will be my third year with the team and there are many things I like about the team. The main thing is the people, it’s great to work for a long period with the same group as you get to know the people working inside, ” he said.

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