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Rossi hoping for first race podium challenge

“To already fight for the podium would be great for us and a good base to start this season from” – Valentino Rossi.

If Valentino Rossi was to race the new Ducati GP12 now, he'd be in with a chance of finishing on the MotoGP podium.

That was the nine-time world champion's opinion after the opening test of 2012 at Sepang, where he set the fifth fastest lap time with the 'all-new' GP12, featuring the factory's first aluminium twin-spar frame.

The Italian, who took just one podium during his debut Ducati season, finished the test 1.2sec behind Casey Stoner, but only half-a-second from third place Dani Pedrosa.

Between the Honda riders was Jorge Lorenzo, whose Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies claimed fourth.

"I agree [third is up for grabs]. For me, now, Lorenzo and Stoner ride also better than me, but maybe with Pedrosa and Spies it is not impossible you know?" said Rossi. "To already fight for the podium would be great for us and a good base to start this season from."

Rossi finished seventh in the first race of 2011, at Qatar.

The second Sepang test starts on February 28, after which there will be one more official outing, at Jerez, prior to the Qatar night race on April 8.

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