Jorge Lorenzo has admitted that winning the MotoGP title this season would mean less to him than if he were able to beat Valentino Rossi to the crown over a full year.
Lorenzo had won the last two races before Rossi's leg-breaking crash at Mugello and was leading his Yamaha teammate in the standings. Although he is quick to point out that he was beating Rossi anyway, he conceded that the world title would be less satisfying in Rossi's absence.
"It's a pity for everyone that Valentino is not here. Winning a championship is always a great feeling, but without Valentino it has lost a little bit of its value," Lorenzo said. "I want to be World Champion with Valentino on track. If I could put all the legends in the history of motorcycling on track with me, I would for sure.
"To have been in front of him before his crash, it doesn't matter that you were going to beat him at the end of the championship. It is still winning without Valentino. For me, at least before his crash I was at the front of the championship. We don't know what was going to happen if he didn't have his crash."
Lorenzo believes that his own strong performances at the beginning of the year put more pressure on Rossi, but stopped short of suggesting it caused his crash.
"I don't know what was happening in his mind – maybe he had some pressure at Mugello, because it is his home GP. Maybe he was thinking he must win there, I don't know.
"He has lost a championship against [Nicky] Hayden, but the championship was very strange and in the end he crashed in the last race. When he lost with Casey [Stoner], Casey had a better bike and better tires. The situation this year was a little different because he has a partner with the same bike and he lost two races.
"It was not so much, because we were only in the third race and there were still 15 races more. But for him to lose two races in a row, maybe he had extra pressure. I can't say this is why he crashed, because I don't know."