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Jorge Lorenzo: Rivalry in MotoGP always fired up the fans | MotoGP

Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo, at the centre of many heated on and off-track battles with Valentino Rossi, believes times have clearly changed.

“Nowadays all the riders seem friends,” Lorenzo said in an interview with Cycle World.

“Quartararo doesn’t speak with Bagnaia like I spoke with Rossi. Pecco doesn’t speak with Jorge Martín like Rossi spoke with Stoner. Nowadays, they all have good relationships.”

Adding that “Instagram and the chase for more likes” could be a factor in the current cordial relationships and that “in a way it’s good for the sport”, the Spaniard feels rivalry in motorsport has always added an extra dimension of interest.

“I have very high respect for every rider, but the ruthless battles have always fired [up] the fans,” Lorenzo said. “I think of the fierce stare Gibernau gave to Valentino in Jerez 2015, the fights between Rossi and Stoner or Rossi and Biaggi. That rivalry was in the air.

“It’s the same in Formula One, where the rivalry of Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen, or Verstappen versus Leclerc, is tangible.”

Lorenzo was thrown straight into what would become one of MotoGP’s biggest rivalries when he joined the premier-class as Rossi’s factory Yamaha team-mate in 2008, with literally a wall placed between them.

“It was hard. Without my strong personality, probably I would have been beaten psychologically because Valentino had all the attention. Everyone loved him, and this made you feel very small,” Lorenzo said.

“But I was determined, and once I put the visor down, my only target was to open the throttle and win. Beating Rossi with the same bike gave me a lot of satisfaction and popularity.”

Lorenzo won the MotoGP title in 2010, 2012 and – most dramatically – 2015, a contest that came to be marred by allegations from Rossi that Marc Marquez was trying to assist the #99.

“That year [2015] I would have easily won the title because I was the fastest, but on race day something always happened,” Lorenzo said. “Like the problem with the visor, the rain on Sunday after a strong weekend on the dry in Silverstone. So despite the speed, it became a tough season.

“Many factors were involved, but for the Rossi-Marquez story the Argentinian GP was crucial. Valentino was responsible for Marquez’ crash, but he didn’t apologise after the race. Marc didn’t like it. I think Rossi’s excuses would have changed the course of things.

“Marquez didn’t really want me to win the title; we were not friends.”

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