Motegi MotoGP: Casey Stoner plays down Valentino Rossi contest

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Casey Stoner has refused to place too much emphasis on his MotoGP title scrap with chief rival Valentino Rossi.

Stoner’s crushing win over the Fiat Yamaha rider in the season’s opening race in Qatar earlier this month inevitably led to some describing the title battle as a two-horse race.

Jorge Lorenzo was third in Qatar but a massive 16 seconds adrift of Aussie Stoner on the impressive new factory Ducati GP9.

And with Dani Pedrosa still short of full fitness of his winter injury woes, Stoner and Rossi do look in a class of their own in the early stages of the season.

But Stoner said: “We have only had the first race. Valentino was fifth in the first race last year and everybody said he was not competitive and he won nine races and the championship.

“Too many people jump on the first race to see what is happening.

“I was fourth place in the championship last year at one point and everybody thought I was out of it, but I came back with a big fight and I didn’t get so much respect for it because I made some mistakes.

“But it will be nice to take the fight for a bit longer in the season.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt