Casey Stoner says his dominance of the 2011 MotoGP championship with Honda, and Valentino Rossi's struggles after replacing him at Ducati, have given him a credibility he never attained while riding for the Italian marque.
Stoner won his first MotoGP crown with the Desmosedici in 2007 and was a race winner in the subsequent three seasons, never finishing lower than fourth. Rather than approbation, however, the Australian said he received "nothing but mistrust" from the media.
He says the situation changed following his move to Honda, with whom he dominated in 2011, taking 10 wins, 16 podiums and 12 pole positions on his way to a second MotoGP title. That coincided with a first winless season for Rossi, who moved across to Ducati as Stoner left – something the Australian believes has helped vindicate his ability and prove he could have won more titles.
"Everything has changed very quickly," Stoner told Motosprint. "In previous years, I would get nothing but mistrust from the media, and generally very little consideration for what I was doing and the effort I was putting in. But then Valentino and I changed bikes: he took the one I had had for four years, while I took the bike of my dreams to show what I'm able to do.
"This change of situations has allowed me to let everyone understand that I could have fought for the title in previous years, too, and that I could have won at least another title."
Stoner also said Rossi's claims that Honda operated on a huge budget in 2011 were not just wide of the mark, but also disparaging of his title success.
"Valentino [Rossi] is saying and doing everything to belittle what was done by myself, my team, and Honda last year," Stoner declared. "It's not true Honda spent so much money, because it's not a company of stupid people. It made no sense to invest a lot on a bike, the 800cc, on the verge of being retired, while in the meantime the new 1000cc was being developed.
"As a matter of fact, Honda in 2011 didn't do much more than usual and the proof is that the 2011 bike wasn't so different from the 2010 one, except for the gearbox. Moreover, my bike remained practically the same throughout the season.
"The truth is that Honda already had a good bike even before my arrival. It just needed new strength coming from the outside, fresher strength able to make the difference without being frightened by this role."