Suzuki legend Kevin Schwantz reckons Valentino Rossi is still hot favourite to reclaim the MotoGP world title despite Casey Stoner’s impressive start to the new campaign.
Stoner’s third place in a rain-lashed French GP last weekend opened up a 21-point lead over Rossi, who struggled home in sixth place having selected a hard rear wet Michelin tyre, when the right choice was a medium.
Aussie Stoner has won three out of five races in 2007 – two more than Rossi – but 1993 world 500 champion Schwantz reckons the Italian factory Yamaha rider is still going to the man to beat over the next 13 races.
“I think that Valentino is going to be the guy that you have to figure out how to beat,” said Schwantz, who saw his first 800cc premier class race in Le Mans.
He added: “Nicky (Hayden) is struggling enough with his bike but I really felt like it was going to be Nicky versus Valentino and mix in Dani Pedrosa, Toni Elias, Stoner and John Hopkins on occasion.
“It’s early to say, it’s just a two horse show and anything can happen and I’m sure just about anything will happen, but the man of the moment is Stoner and he looks to be well in control.
“You’d be hard pressed to say that it’s not going to be Valentino or Casey that wins the title right now but one mistake by either of them and it brings a whole bunch of riders back into the picture.”
Log on to www.motorcyclenews.com later this week to hear the full audio of Matthew Birt’s Le Mans interview with Schwantz.