28 May 2015
MotoGP Italy: Rossi: Your team-mate is the first enemy
Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo talk MotoGP title battles - past and present...
Yamaha team-mates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are now first and second in the MotoGP title chase for the first time since 2010.
Each have taken two wins so far this season, with Rossi 15-points clear of Lorenzo heading into this weekend's Italian round at Mugello.
Given the notoriously frosty relationship between Rossi and Lorenzo during their previous title battles, the pair were asked how things have changed for 2015.
“We were team-mate with Jorge from 2008 but I think our best battle was in 2009 where we were close all season and we also did very good fights in some races,” replied Rossi. “After, the challenge continued in 2010 but unfortunately I had the injury [broken leg] and then I go to Ducati so our story split. Now we are back.
“I think it's always difficult when you fight already [as team-mates] for just one victory - and for the championship more. But the atmosphere in the team is good. Especially because it is always very clear.
“We have a good relationship, good respect - outside and on track. But like everybody knows your team-mate is your first rival, no? Because have the same bike. So is the first enemy. The first guy to try to beat.
“But anyway I think this year is also more interesting because already in five races we have three different riders able to win. It looks like the bikes are very balanced. Depends on one track to another. So maybe not just me and Jorge, but also Ducati and Honda.”
Lorenzo had gone on to win his first MotoGP title after Rossi's injury in 2010, claimed a second premier-class crown in 2012, then eclipsed Rossi on the Italian's 2013 Yamaha return.
But the tide swung back in Rossi's favour last year, although both were once again beaten by Honda's Marc Marquez.
“As Vale said 2009 was the year of the fight,” recalled Lorenzo. “Maybe I was a little bit inexperienced to be constant and don't crash. I make so many mistakes. So I had the speed, also he had the speed, so we were very equal but I made a little bit more mistakes than him. So finally Vale was more complete.
“As he said in 2010 probably he had his back injury so he was not 100% in the first four races and then he crashed in Mugello. So it was not a real fight.
“Our relationship is probably better now because I think the positions on the team are more accepted at this point and I think we are making a great job. Relationship good, correct, we have respect, we help the factory to bring a better bike every time and we are winning at this moment four of five races. So it is a good period for us and we have to take profit of it.”
Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso is currently closest to the Yamaha riders, 19 points from Rossi, with Honda's Marquez 33 points adrift.
“The Ducati compared to last year improved so much," Lorenzo declared. "They are fast and constant and especially here the expectation is very high for them. Marc as always is very fast and here he will be fast and Valentino is even more constant than last year.
"Luckily for us I came back to my highest level but the championship is very long. The good point is that until now it seems like a Yamaha season. Let's see what happens in the future but for sure we have a great opportunity to fight for the championship.”
Rossi is chasing a tenth grand prix crown in his 20th season of racing while Lorenzo is seeking his fifth world title. Like Marquez, Lorenzo also has the chance to become Spain's first ever triple premier-class champion.
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