It is no secret that Valentino Rossi is uncomfortable having Jorge Lorenzo as a team mate. The young Spaniard has raced with and even beaten Rossi on a number of occasions this year, and has pushed Rossi hard for the title. The fact that Lorenzo is doing this on exactly the same equipment as Rossi - a bike that Rossi has spent the last five years developing - merely makes the situation even worse.
At Sepang, Italian and Spanish journalists quizzed Rossi about Lorenzo. "He is very strong, consistent and younger than me," Rossi said. "He is going to be difficult to beat in the next two races, but also in the future." Rossi acknowledged that he expected Lorenzo to be a World Champion one day. "He will be a World Champion," Rossi said, "But I hope he won't win as many as me."
Having such a tough rival, Rossi told reporters, has provided the Italian enormous motivation. "I think Lorenzo has been one of the hardest rivals I have ever faced," Rossi said. When asked what made Lorenzo so tough, Rossi pointed to the way Lorenzo wins races and his capacity to overcome mistakes and adversity.
But Rossi also pointed out that Lorenzo would face tough competition from the rest of the Fantastic Four. "He, Stoner and Pedrosa are the future," Rossi said, "And I can see a great rivalry between Lorenzo and Stoner." When asked which of the two was stronger, Rossi couldn't say. Both riders are very strong, in Rossi's opinion, and each have their strengths. "Stoner is always fast, in all conditions, and right from the start. Psychologically, Lorenzo is a rock, and he never gives up."