MotoGP title leader Jorge Lorenzo was riding 'a little confused' in the aftermath of Valentino Rossi's leg-breaking accident, and believes that the 2010 world championship has less value without the Italian.

Lorenzo came into 2010 mentally prepared for a season-long dogfight with the legendary seven time MotoGP champion, having kept the title fight alive until the penultimate round of last year.

Despite both suffering training injuries, Lorenzo and Fiat Yamaha team-mate Rossi were the only riders to win in the first three rounds and quickly broke clear of the field.

Rossi took victory in Qatar, before Lorenzo claimed consecutive triumphs at Jerez and Le Mans for a title advantage of nine points heading into Rossi's home event at Mugello, where the Italian sustained his injury.

So how has the 2010 Lorenzo improved over the 2009 version?

"Maybe the mental side," replied Lorenzo, speaking at Lords cricket ground in London on Wednesday, ahead of this weekend's Silverstone round.

"I was working on the mental side during the winter. Trying to be more constant. Trying to have the same speed, but with more safety margin. I think I've done that, but you never know 100 percent. Maybe I will crash sometime."

Lorenzo also hinted that the mental aspect could have played a part in Rossi's fateful accident at Mugello.

"You know, before Valentino crashed we beat him two times in a row," said Lorenzo. "I don't know if this affected his mind or not. I don't know if he crashed because of that or not. But it's a pity for everyone that he is not here."

Ironically, the pressure Rossi may or may not have been feeling was instantly transferred onto Lorenzo, albeit in a different form. And it was a lot for the 23-year-old to take in.

"Maybe at Mugello I was a little bit confused, because when Vale crashed the championship changed a lot for us," said Lorenzo. "There was not long between his crash and the race. It was difficult to process everything that had happened in that time."

It is partially for that reason that Lorenzo was surprisingly unable to put up any resistance to Dani Pedrosa on race day.

"I knew I couldn't crash at that race. I had to finish and get some points," he explained. "On the one side the bike was not the same as in practice, on the other side [mentally] I didn't race at the same level as at Le Mans and Jerez."

Nevertheless, Lorenzo now heads into the British MotoGP round, the first 500cc/MotoGP race weekend without Rossi since 1999, with a solid 25 point lead over nearest rival Pedrosa.

"If someone had told me before the season started that I was going to win two races and finish second in the other two races, for sure I would take it!" said Lorenzo. "It's only four races, there are 14 to go, but the start has been perfect for us."

During winter testing, Lorenzo had said: "One day, I feel I can beat Valentino. I don't know if it will be this year, but one day I feel I can do it."

With Rossi now out of the title fight - he won't be back on track until at least August - Lorenzo has been denied the chance to prove he can defeat Rossi until at least 2011.

"Winning a world title is always great, but without Valentino maybe the world championship has lost a little bit of its value," he confessed.

"That's natural. Before we had 17 riders and now we have 16, and of course the rider who crashed was Valentino, who has won so many titles. But it doesn't mean it is an easy job for me now.

"I think the best approach now is to keep improving my riding style and not to think about results or where the other riders are.

"Maybe I could win this championship with Vale on the track. We will never know," he mused. "Before his crash I was leading the world championship. It could have happened. Now I will try to beat everybody who is left."

Lorenzo himself was effectively ruled out of the 2008 title fight by injury, while Casey Stoner's 2009 chances were ended by sickness, but the Spaniard understands why the loss of Rossi is of a different magnitude - even though he believes no individual is bigger than the sport.

"People are used to seeing Vale on track, but you know basketball is just as popular now as when Michael Jordon was playing. Maradona was the football star of the '80s, Pele the star of the '60s and the '70s," he said. "There are always these special superstars.

"But all sportsman, unfortunately, we have to retire one day. The sport itself is the only thing that remains."

Lorenzo, who wore a Valentino Rossi t-shirt on the Mugello podium, has not spoken to Rossi directly since his accident, but did call Rossi's team manager Davide Brivio when he was in hospital to check on Rossi's condition.

Free practice for the British MotoGP takes place on Friday.


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