Valentino Rossi says he hasn't faced a MotoGP championship rival as 'fast everywhere' as Jorge Lorenzo since Casey Stoner in 2008.
Rossi, chasing an eighth premier-class crown in his 16th season, was asked to compare this year's battle with Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo to his long list of previous title opponents.
“With Jorge it is very difficult because Jorge is always very fast, in every practice and every track. So if I had to compare with the past, was more similar with the battle that I did with him in 2009 or with Stoner in 2008,” Rossi said.
“That was where I have to try to go as fast as possible, against a rival that was so fast everywhere and in every condition. So more like with Stoner. The difference with 2008 is that Stoner had a different bike and this time, with Jorge, we are on the same bike.
“Comparing with my championships before that, it was a bit different fighting against Biaggi and also Gibernau. Because at that time I was a little bit faster than them. So it was a little bit the opposite to now. I think that for sure this year is the most difficult.”
Rossi is 23-points ahead of Lorenzo with five rounds to go, having used race-day rain at the last two events to overturn the Spaniard's superior pace.
On the eve of this weekend's Aragon round, Honda's reigning double champion Marc Marquez - resigned to his first MotoGP title defeat due to a 63 point gap to Rossi - was asked which of the M1 riders he thinks is looking strongest.
“I would say Jorge is faster because his speed is really good, but on the other side Valentino is doing his 100% and has finished in front [of Jorge] in the last two races,” Marquez replied.
“It will be difficult and interesting because we know that in Motegi, Sepang and Philip Island it can be a wet race. That is a question mark for everybody. From point of speed maybe Jorge, but from point of experience and managing the situation maybe Valentino.”
Rossi hasn't won the MotoGP title since 2009, while Lorenzo is seeking his third premier-class crown after championship victories in 2010 and 2012.