Valentino Rossi has admitted that 2007 MotoGP world championship rival Casey Stoner is a much tougher opponent to defeat than American Nicky Hayden was last season.
The 28-year-old Italian trails Ducati rider Casey Stoner by 21-points going into this Sunday's (July 15) German GP at the Sachsenring. Aussie Casey Stoner has beaten Valentino Rossi six times in the opening nine races, which has included five victories compared to Valentino Rossi's three.
Nicky Hayden won only two races in his 2006 championship-winning campaign but was crowned champion in emotional scenes after Valentino Rossi's error in their final round title decider in Valencia.
Valenti Rossi's quest to claim backs the premier class crown after his defeat to Nicky Hayden has seen him asked whether Casey Stoner was a more difficult opponent to contend with than Nicky Hayden. The seven-times world champion said: "Yes for sure. Stoner has already won five races, and Hayden just two in all of last season. So it is different, and more difficult. But last year I had four or five zero points in the races, I don't remember. So, if just once I arrived at the end I was world champion. This year to try to win we have to work at the maximum.
"Last year was more strange with five riders fighting for the championship in the last two races, so is a little bit of confusion. This year is like Stoner is more strong, and faster."