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Rossi: Lorenzo tough to beat

“The world title is a dream. [We] have to understand if I'm still a top rider, still fast and if I can still fight for the podium. After two seasons like this, nobody knows” - Valentino Rossi.

MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi has admitted he faces a major challenge to beat team-mate Jorge Lorenzo on his return to Yamaha next season.

Rossi previously raced alongside Lorenzo from 2008-2010, winning the title in '08 and '09. But Lorenzo grew ever stronger and was leading the championship when Rossi broke his leg during 2010.

Rossi has been winless since joining Ducati at the end of that year, while Lorenzo has continued to carry the Yamaha challenge.

The Spaniard has taken eight more victories since Rossi's departure and currently leads this year's championship by 23 points, as he seeks to secure a second MotoGP crown.

"It will be interesting," said Rossi at Indianapolis on Thursday, ahead of this weekend's grand prix. "Now the situation has changed a lot compared to 2008 when Jorge arrived at Yamaha.

"Now he's the No. 1 in the team, and our relationship is good. I have respect for him, and he has respect for me. I am sure that together we can form a great team for Yamaha."

Rossi added: "The next two seasons for me will be hard, especially trying to stay with Jorge, also to beat Jorge, because now he's very, very fast.

"But I needed a bike for enjoy [racing]. At this moment of my career I have to enjoy, I have to try to fight and to arrive happy at the racetrack."

An eighth premier-class title would tie Giacomo Agostini's all-time record, but Rossi claims he must first prove that he is still a top rider.

"For sure, the world title is a dream," he said of 2013. "In my condition now, [we] have to understand if I'm still a top rider, if I'm still fast, and if I can fight for the front row, if I can still fight for the podium.

"I don't know, because after two seasons like this, nobody knows. So before I speak about the championship, I have to understand if I can fight from the front row, I can fight for the podium. And after, we will see."

Rossi continued: "Jorge has become stronger than when I was with him in Yamaha - in 2010 he was [already] very strong. And he is riding the M1 at an incredible level without any mistakes. So it's a question mark for me, I don't know [if I will be at Lorenzo's level]."

One thing that is certain is that the wall that previously divided Rossi and Lorenzo in the Yamaha pits, at Rossi's request, will not be present.

"No, no, [no wall] nothing. We will be very close with Jorge if he agrees," smiled Rossi.

"No problem," added Lorenzo. "I always said the wall is a stupid thing. It doesn't make sense for anything. No wall is OK for me and I think for Vale this time."

Rossi also stamped out speculation that he needs to bring sponsorship to Yamaha, which has been without title backing since Rossi's 2010 exit.

"This is bullsh*t. I don't know why I have to bring money to race with Yamaha. I am happy about my contract, and my contract is fixed," said Rossi.

"So I hope that Yamaha can find a good sponsor for next year. I think they speak with some other guys and - yes, it's true speak with Monster but already before I arrive. And the team will not be separate, for sure.

"I don't know if maybe have one bike will have one sponsor, the other bike a little bit different, but I think not. I think will be all the same."

Rossi will be 34 and Lorenzo 25 at the start of next season. Both are contracted to Yamaha until 2014.

Yamaha won the Triple Crown of Riders', Teams' and Manufacturers' MotoGP titles when Rossi and Lorenzo raced together from 2008-2010.

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