Qatar MotoGP: Nicky Hayden backs Casey Stoner’s title tilt

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Nicky Hayden has backed new factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner to mount a serious challenge to regain the MotoGP world crown in 2009.

Looking ahead to the season’s opening race under Qatar’s spectacular floodlights on Sunday night, American Hayden believes Stoner is going to be tougher than ever to beat after a stunning winter testing campaign.

Stoner has thrashed arch-rival Valentino Rossi on the Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1 in the last two tests in Qatar and Jerez.

And 27-year-old Hayden told MCN: “I’m no genius but I realise the rider makes a big difference and people don’t want to give him (Stoner) credit, but everybody knows he’s getting the most out of the bike.

“And he was on the verge of that with the Honda on the 990. He just didn’t stay on every time but there were times when he was lightning fast, so for sure he’s due for some credit.

“He’s a bad boy and his speed on the Ducati is pretty amazing and there’s no doubt he’s going to be fighting at the front at every race.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt