LONDON, Sep 3 (Reuters) - Ducati’s Casey Stoner should be given full credit for his domination of the MotoGP season, according to rival Suzuki team boss Paul Denning.
The 21-year-old Australian won Sunday’s San Marino Grand Prix to build up an 85 point lead over Yamaha’s Italian Valentino Rossi with five races remaining.
The youngster can now clinch the title in Portugal in two weeks’ time and looks sure to become the first Australian champion since Mick Doohan won his fifth and final 500cc crown in 1998.
Congratulating Stoner on another outstanding performance, Denning said the Ducati rider’s contribution had to be recognised.
“There has been a lot of nonsense spoken in MotoGP this year regarding tyre regulations, engine performance, etc etc,” he said on the Suzuki Web site (www.rizla-suzuki-motogp.co.uk) after Sunday’s race at Misano.
“I believe that the difference at the moment is Casey and we’re focusing our best efforts to improve our own performance to beat him and that’s what everybody should be doing at this time.”
Suzuki took second and third places on the Misano podium with Australian Chris Vermeulen and American John Hopkins.
It was the team’s first double podium finish in the MotoGP era, and first since 2001, and their third race in a row in the runner-up slot.
The top five riders were all using Bridgestone tyres, while Rossi retired with an engine failure. The Italian has been critical of new tyre regulations, which he says have favoured Ducati.
Stoner’s win was his eighth success in 13 starts this year.
The Australian also became only the second MotoGP rider after Rossi to win three races in a row on a four-stroke machine.
“I’m still taking the championship race by race,” Stoner said, offering Rossi little hope of a comeback in the races to come.
“The second part of the season is when I usually get stronger, so I hope we can be stronger at the next races,” he said.
“The more I ride my Ducati the more comfortable I become and the faster I become.”