Casey Stoner said red-hot title favourite Jorge Lorenzo would make a worthy 2010 MotoGP world champion after he claimed his best result of the season in America yesterday.
Aussie Stoner finished a distant second behind another dominant display from Fiat Yamaha rival Lorenzo who now holds a 72-point lead in the standings at the halfway stage of the season.
And the 2007 world champion heaped praise on faultless Lorenzo, who has not finished outside of the top two in the opening nine races.
“He’s proven to be a worthy champion at this point, “ declared Stoner as his own winless streak extended to ten races going back to Sepang in Malaysia last October.
“Jorge’s been so consistent and very fast as well. Every session he’s always there and he’s riding fantastically. When you’re riding up against somebody like that it’s very easy to make mistakes.
"When you have to try and gain so many points back, it’s easy for anyone to have some problems. So we’ve just got to keep going. I’m not in the running for the championship; I’m in the hunt for a top three in the championship.
"I’m actually quite happy with the way I’m riding at the moment, but maybe a few too many mistakes is costing me.”
Stoner’s second was his best result of the year and put him on the rostrum for the fourth successive race.
But he was ill equipped to deal with Lorenzo’s hot pace once the 23-year-old hit the front on lap 12 following a disastrous error by Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner had made a fast start and shadowed Pedrosa in the early laps before he ran wide on lap six.
It was a mistake he never really recovered from and he said: “Everything seemed to be working perfectly at the beginning of the race. We just needed to wait until the tyres got up to temperature.
"I wanted to get a little bit closer to Dani to try and make a pass on him and see what we could do at the front. But as soon as I tried to push that little bit harder, I closed the front and I lost a bit of time to Dani.
"After that I tried to bring it back again but I lost the front a little bit again. And then a lap or two later I lost the front quite a lot and ran very wide and that’s when Jorge (Lorenzo) came by.
"I’m a little bit disappointed with that. We hadn’t really had any front-end issues all weekend, but it seems to be I wasn’t the only one with front-end issues because there were a lot of crashes. I’m lucky, I suppose because I managed to keep it on two wheels.
"If I had a little bit more confidence in the front we could’ve gone faster, but that’s the way the race went. Jorge was running some really nice consistent lap times and as soon as he and Dani had that lead on me I just couldn’t quite pull it back enough.
"And after that Jorge was able to run his lap times, do a good rhythm and I just wasn’t quite fast enough to keep up.
"I tried a few times in the midway point of the race to drop my lap times again and had a small front end lose again, so it was just time to try and keep everything nice and smooth and consistent and bring it home to second.
"We still need to pull something out of the bag a little bit more to give Jorge and Dani a run for their money.”