New MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo says he learnt a lot about bike development during his three seasons alongside seven time champion Valentino Rossi, but it is Casey Stoner that the Spaniard sees as his biggest threat for 2011.

Lorenzo gave his thoughts about the forthcoming MotoGP season, including his new role as Yamaha team leader, during an exclusive interview with the Koran Jakarta newspaper, while on a recent PR visit to Indonesia.

That interview is reproduced with permission here on Crash.net and began with Lorenzo's chances of becoming the first rider other than Rossi to successfully defend a MotoGP title since 1998.

"I'm not sure, because nobody knows about the future," he admitted. "To be champion is the maximum result. I feel very lucky and very happy to be in MotoGP with Yamaha.

"I'm the champion, but that's the past. Now we start fighting again to be number one in 2011. We must concentrate fully."

Lorenzo believes the instant pace of new factory Honda rider Casey Stoner during November's Valencia test is to be taken very seriously - and he places the 2007 world champion (for Ducati) above the likes of Rossi and last year's runner-up Dani Pedrosa.

"I keep saying Casey is my closest competitor because we are the fastest now," Lorenzo explained. "Seeing from the Valencia test result and how our best times were so close."

Stoner and Lorenzo were separated by just 0.113sec at the end of the Valencia test but, even if that form continues during the forthcoming pre-season tests, Lorenzo feels the unique nature of the Qatar night race means the opening round could see a surprise winner.

"Nobody knows what's going to happen in Qatar. The night race is beautiful, but different and maybe in Qatar the winner is another rider. Not me or Casey," he confessed.

Attention then turned to former team-mate Rossi, who has left Yamaha after four titles in seven seasons to start a new challenge at Ducati.

Lorenzo became the first ever MotoGP team-mate to beat Rossi in 2010, although hopes of a season-long title battle ended when the Italian broke his leg at round four.

Rossi, who also nursed a shoulder injury for much of last year, made a low key start to his Ducati career with 15th at the Valencia test, but Lorenzo knows the Italian should never be written off as a title contender.

"He only rode for two days with Ducati so it's too soon to know about him with Ducati," said Lorenzo, who will drop his #99 for the #1 plate this year.

"He's a great sportsman, has a good image, won nine world titles, is really talented and is capable of winning with Ducati... But remember, Ducati has only won the title with Casey."

The increasing rivalry with Lorenzo was one of the main reason's Rossi moved to Ducati, but Jorge claims he doesn't feel pressure to match The Doctor's record of multiple world championships for Yamaha.

"I'm happy for what I get now," he said. "If I don't win more titles, I'm still happy. If I win more, I will be happier. This year we will have a different bike. I have new team-mate [Ben Spies] who is young and energetic. The competition will be more interesting."

With Rossi gone, Lorenzo will also have the added responsibility of leading development of the YZR-M1 project, something he feels ready to do.

"I always learnt from Rossi," said Lorenzo. "And I'm a perfectionist with an eye for detail, just like him, when it comes to developing the bike.

"Now we [Yamaha] have to be smart and understand the bike's condition. Basically we need more power and acceleration for this year."

Lorenzo - who missed one of last year's pre-season tests due to a training injury - will ride a MotoGP bike for the first time in 2011 during the first Sepang test, which takes place from February 1-3.

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Smart guy!!!