Recently-crowned 2010 MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo has suggested that his relationship with new team-mate Ben Spies will likely be 'a little easier' than the sometimes rocky rapport he endured with Valentino Rossi over the past three seasons.
The frosty partnership between Lorenzo and Rossi was perhaps best evinced by the fact that a wall was erected in the FIAT Yamaha garage at the beginning of 2010 to divide the warring pair on race weekends, with no data passing from one side to the other. The move is understood to have pleased the Italian rather more than the Spaniard.
Lorenzo's burgeoning speed and potential and increasing stature inside the team has similarly posed problems. There were alleged ultimatums from Rossi this year and last – fervently denied by Yamaha management – that the team would have to choose between the pair for 2011, arguing that there was insufficient room at the inn for both of them. When it became apparent that Jorge was going nowhere, 'The Doctor' made his decision to jump ship to Ducati.
There was also, finally, the brutal, no-holds barred scrap over third place between the duo at Motegi in October – the very day after Lorenzo was reconfirmed for next year – with Rossi seemingly paying little heed to his team-mate's status as world champion-elect and subsequently being chided by Yamaha for having been 'not correct' and 'too aggressive'.
Boosted now by his title success and indisputably the number one at FIAT Yamaha heading into 2011, Lorenzo hopes he will enjoy a happier of time of things alongside Spies – a rider who, although highly-rated and tipped for a bright future in the sport off the back of an outstanding debut campaign in the premier class this year, will likely not pose too great a threat to the former double 250cc World Champion, initially at least.
“Ben seems like a nice guy,” Lorenzo told Crash.net Radio
in an exclusive interview. “Our relationship is good. We share some jokes together, and I think it's going to be a little bit easier than with Valentino. We are rivals, we are competitors and we are going to fight to try to beat each other – that's the reality – but our relationship is going to be okay. Ben pushed me this year already! Next year with a factory bike and with more experience, for sure he is going to fight for wins – and maybe for the world title.”
The 23-year-old is also quick to downplay suggestions that as one of the few top MotoGP riders to be benefitting from continuity in 2011 – with chief rivals Rossi and Casey Stoner having switched to Ducati and Honda respectively – he is in pole position to lift the laurels for a second consecutive season.
“It depends,” he mused. “On the one hand, it's true that Valentino and Casey for example will be on new bikes that they don't have so much experience of, but they both have really high motivation, and this for sure will help them to be faster. Valentino is Italian and Ducati is Italian, so it's a big challenge for them – but I think they are going to fight to win from the first race. I think it's a really interesting change for MotoGP and all the people who watch it.”