Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo denies he is ‘friends’ with Valentino Rossi after an apparent thawing in their often strained relationship.

A less frosty atmosphere exists between the fierce rivals and Lorenzo said there was no reason why Rossi would not be able to win on the current Ducati after the Spaniard won at Catalunya to make it two victories on the spin.

Rossi never managed to make it onto the top step during his tenure with the Italian manufacturer but Lorenzo said the 39-year-old could win on the 2018 Desmosedici.

“I think Vale’s Ducati was more complicated; from the outside I believe that. As I said before, now for me, is the most complete Ducati ever. Vale is a great rider, so why not,” he said.

Lorenzo, though, dismissed the notion that the pair have become friends now that they are no longer team-mates, although he admits he could imagine having fun with Rossi ‘outside the track’.

“I don’t think we are friends, even if I think outside the track we would have fun, because I think we like to have fun outside the Grands Prix,” Lorenzo said.

“It is difficult to be friends with a rival, two strong characters and two riders that want to win.

"The most important thing is to have respect and I have huge respect to Vale and I think he has the same to me.

“We are great champions and among of the best in history. Here we are three guys (including Marc Marquez) who have many championships and made history a lot of years in MotoGP and it is a great thing for the sport.”

Rossi said the question of whether or not he could be a winner on the current Ducati ‘would remain open’ and also reflected on his relationship with Lorenzo, which he said had experienced ‘ups and downs’.

“I don’t know, it is a difficult question. I think that nobody knows and we don’t know, never. The question will remain open,” said the Doctor.

On Lorenzo, he added: “We have difficult times but also good times, a little bit of up and down. One or two quite big, but it is like this – difficult – when you fight for the same result and also Jorge is one of my strongest and toughest rivals in my career.

“We stay a long time together in the same team, which was also more difficult, but I think it is normal like this and the important thing is the respect, for sure.”