MotoGP: Valentino Rossi impressed by Jorge Lorenzo

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Valentino Rossi believes impressive new Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is providing him with great motivation as the Italian goes in search of a sixth MotoGP crown in 2008.

Lorenzo is Rossi’s first Yamaha team-mate to lead the 29-year-old in the series standings since he started riding a factory YZR-M1 in 2004.

Rossi, who ended his long barren victory run with an impressive win in Shanghai earlier this month, said it was good to have a consistently competitive team-mate, even though Rossi and Lorenzo ride with different tyre brands.

“It is a different situation to have such a fast team-mate who is very strong and I think will be a good rival also for the future. But to have a fast rider on the same bike is also motivation to try and be better.

“We have two different tyres, so sometimes we have some advantage, sometimes we have some disadvantage, but it is interesting,” said Valentino Rossi, who goes into this weekend’s French MotoGP in Le Mans trailing series leader Dani Pedrosa by nine points.

Rossi admitted Lorenzo’s immediate impact with Yamaha had made his job tougher, with the Spaniard already claiming three pole positions and a victory in his first four races.

“It is like always. You need a great, great effort and this year maybe also more, because I have a new and young rival, so I have to give the more effort for stay on top,” said the seven-times world champion, who has now scored three successive podium finishes for Bridgestone.

Rossi though believes he can’t just focus attention on double world 250 champion Lorenzo, with Pedrosa and reigning world champion Casey Stoner all in the title hunt.

Rossi added: “Now the level is more close. Last year Casey was in a higher level at a lot of tracks. Now the battle is stronger, longer and more difficult. But it will be interesting.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt