Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi on Tuesday heaped praise on his Yamaha bike after finishing fourth on the first day of pre-season MotoGP testing at Malaysia's Sepang circuit on Tuesday.
The Italian won four of his world championships with Yamaha before leaving for Ducati at the end of 2010, but has not won in the last 37 races.
After briefly topping the fastest times, Rossi eventually clocked in just 0.427 seconds behind leader Dani Pedrosa (2:01.157) and enough to convince the great that his reunion with Yamaha can see him back to winning ways.
"For sure today was such a big relief. The feeling on the bike is positive. My first impression of the bike is good," a smiling Rossi told reporters at the end of testing day.
"I am more motivated now and more young after two years on the Ducati," he added.
Rossi admitted that the last two months were a period of concern to him and had left him doubting whether he was still "a top rider."
"In the last two months I was worried. After two (poor seasons) you have a lot of doubt. In the last two seasons, the results was quite bad and the difference (in timings) was huge," he said.
He added that the Yamaha team had done a "good job" to improve the performance of the bike since he was last at the team two years ago.
"For me the bike is better than I last rode. The electronics system is better. The engine has more power," he said.
Reflecting on his ill-fated spell with Ducati, he said: "The last season, it was frustrating. You try everything and there is no change. I don't continue with Ducati because it is not my bike."
But Rossi, who will turn 34 on February 16, said that he faces a struggle against father time as he seeks to reclaim his position at the top of the sport. "(Dani) Pedrosa is at the top. I am already more older. I need to put in more effort," he said.
Rossi won the 125cc championship in 1997 and the 250cc championship in 1999 before moving up to MotoGP where he was world champion seven times between 2001 and 2009.