Valentino Rossi, the Italian many consider to be the greatest motorcycle racer in history, will be seeking his eighth world title as the MotoGP series opens its season Sunday in Qatar.
Rossi, who has won seven championships, is back with the Yamaha race team after two years with the Ducati team.
He rejoins Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain, the two-time and reigning MotoGP champion. The two had frosty relations when they previously were teammates but claim that's all behind them.
Now 34, Rossi often has struggled since winning his last title in 2009 and suffered a broken right leg in mid-2010. But Rossi was among the fastest riders Thursday on the 16-turn, 3.3-mile Qatar track.
The 18-race MotoGP season includes three U.S. stops: Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on April 21; Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, Calif., on July 21 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 18.