Valentino Rossi isn't underestimating the challenge that former MotoGP team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will provide at Ducati next season.

Lorenzo finished his Yamaha career with a dominant victory at Valencia on Sunday, ending a ten-race win drought for the M1.

Rossi meanwhile experienced the strengths of the Ducati at first hand, when Andrea Iannone repeatedly blasted by him on the main straight and ultimately won their duel for third.

So is Rossi concerned about the combination of Lorenzo and Ducati?

"Yes for sure," the Italian replied. "Here in Valencia, like in Aragon, we expect that the Honda in the last laps will be stronger than us, because they stress the rear tyre less. But in the last races also the Ducati uses the tyre in a better way, especially the front. It is like they use the front less, in the wet in Malaysia and also in the dry here.

"The Ducati is a very different bike. It has some weak points compared with us, but in the straight it is very fast. I'm 100% sure if you forget about Lorenzo with the Ducati for the 2017 championship battle you are very stupid, because I think that he can be very competitive."

Rossi famously failed to win on the Ducati in 2011 and 2012, but feels Lorenzo won't have a problem settling in after spending all nine of his premier-class seasons with Yamaha. Especially with the Desmosedici having won two races this season.

"First of all, I think the atmosphere in Ducati now is a bit different [to when Rossi was there], because it has changed a lot inside," Rossi said. "But I think that Jorge [will] feel good.

"Sincerely also when I race for Ducati I feel okay with all the people inside, with all the guys that work with me. Unfortunately we are not able to improve the bike and arrive at the right result. But for the rest is good.

"It's true also that our [Yamaha] team, the atmosphere is very good. Is very familiar. And I think that we work always in the right way. And the Japanese put always the rider at the top and try to fix all the small problems. But I think also in Ducati, for Lorenzo, is okay."

Rossi was happy to admit that the 7.7s gap to Lorenzo on Sunday was mainly down to the #99 riding better at the Spanish circuit.

"Jorge in this race track rides better than me and is faster," he declared. "I think at the end most of [the time difference] is that.

"I suffer a lot with the front tyre. I want to try to race with the hard but unfortunately I didn't have enough grip on the left. But today with a bit more temperature I suffer a bit with the soft. But especially I think that Lorenzo here is faster."

Rossi beat Lorenzo to the runner-up position in the world championship, behind Marc Marquez, by 16 points.

By Peter McLaren


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