Jorge Lorenzo vehemently criticized Marco Simoncelli in the post-qualifying press conference at Estoril this afternoon as the pair's dispute over riding ethics escalated.
Lorenzo had claimed earlier in the weekend that Simoncelli's riding style was too aggressive, citing a close call between them in last year's Valencia finale as an example. Today Lorenzo beat Simoncelli to Estoril pole position, and in the end of day press conference, the Italian attempted to rebuke the Spaniard for his previous comments.
"I read something that he said about my riding style, but for me, he said some wrong things, because he said that last year in Valencia I touched him and he nearly crashed, but it was not true because I was in front, he tried to pass me and he made a mistake. For me that is not a correct example," said Simoncelli.
But Lorenzo hit back firmly, saying he stood by his criticisms and that his view of Simoncelli's riding manners was shared by many other riders.
"From my side, I think yesterday I spoke the right words. For me, it's not a problem. If nothing happens in the future, it's not a problem. We'll see what happens in the future," he said, addressing Simoncelli directly.
"I think you have done a lot of touching with a lot of riders. How many races have I not crashed or touched anyone? This is your opinion, but I think a lot of people here in the paddock and a lot of riders have the same opinion as me. Ask [Andrea] Dovizioso, for example. Or [Hiroshi] Aoyama.
"If in the future nothing happens, it's not a problem. But if in the future something happens with you, it will be a problem."
The spat drew widespread laughter among the gathered media, but Lorenzo said he had a serious point to make.
"Everybody is laughing, but it's not funny, because we are playing with our lives," he said. "We are riding at 300 km/h with a very powerful and very heavy bike. It's not mini-bikes. It's a dangerous sport and you have to think about what you do."
Asked if he would feel comfortable potentially battling for victory with Simoncelli in tomorrow's grand prix, Lorenzo said he was happy to fight and confident in his own ethics.
"It's OK, I'm ready for a fight with other riders," he said. "I don't like to fight not clean. I crashed into [Alex] de Angelis in Japan, and he crashed because of my mistake, but from this time forward I've tried to ride clean.
"I can make a mistake because I'm human. But when I ride, I think twice. I am not impulsive because it's one thing to play with your health, but another thing to play with the other riders' health."