Casey Stoner is riding better than at any other stage of his career, according to Honda marketing chief Livio Suppo.
As the mastermind behind Ducati's MotoGP project, Suppo signed a 21-year-old Stoner to the Italian manufacturer's squad in his title-winning year of 2007, and was also influential in bringing him across to Honda for this season.
Having seen Stoner's performances at close quarters within both outfits, Suppo has seen a clear development in his riding.
"In 2007 he was 21 years old, now he's 25: he's still young, but four years at that age make a huge difference," Suppo told Gazzetta dello Sport. "In fact, he feels stronger himself.
"Back then, it was said that he was winning just because he had the Bridgestones and a super-quick Ducati on the straights, while now with the control tire and other riders with the same bike everyone realizes that he's the one making the difference: he's doing something extraordinary.
"He was phenomenal in 2007 already, but if you said that then you'd be called a loony, while now everyone is convinced. As a rider he is finding incredible balance: by having more experience with the Honda, he manages to handle difficulties better. His strength also comes from competitive tension, that's why he needs the right people at his side: his team is excellent at managing him."
Stoner heads to this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix at Misano with a 44-point lead over Jorge Lorenzo in the world championship, having won the last three races and seven in total this year. Just 150 points are still available.