Casey Stoner now treasures his bitter tussles with ‘cunning’ Valentino Rossi

Nearly a decade after ending their bitter rivalry on track, Casey Stoner buries the hatchet with Valentino Rossi ahead of the Italian's MotoGP retirement

Valentino Rossi - Casey Stoner

Casey Stoner says his notorious and occasionally bitter rivalry with Valentino Rossi helped validate his achievements in MotoGP, adding that he looks back at their battles with fondness.

Though nearly a decade has passed since Stoner and Rossi last shared a race track with one another after the Australian called an early end to his career at the end of the 2012 season, in just over a week’s time it is the turn of the Italian to hang up his helmet.

Regarded as one of the great MotoGP riders of the modern era, the famously coy and media-wary Stoner achieved two MotoGP World Championships with Ducati (2007) and Honda (2012) before ending his career at the age of 27.

Nonetheless, in the few short years he raced at the top, Stoner engaged in a simmering rivalry with Rossi both on and off-track, with their edge-of-the-seat battle for the 2008 United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca often identified as the peak of their feud.

However, Stoner’s opinion of ‘cunning’ Rossi has mellowed in the years since he hung up his helmet and he now looks back on the period as a way for him to learn from another great.

"You know, me and Valentino have had some amazing battles, we had a fantastic rivalry,” he told assembled media attending the Algarve MotoGP at Portimao. “Some good points and bad points, some things went my way and other things really didn't.

"But there was one thing that was fantastic about racing Valentino, and it's that I got to learn from him, whether it was on track or off the track with his media. 

"He was always very savvy, and very clever, very cunning. So I got to learn a heck of a lot. 

"And I think also, my achievements in my career were validated all the more having raced against him in his era."

Valentino Rossi hails ‘incredible’ MotoGP rival Stoner

It is a love-in Valentino Rossi mirrors now too, praising Stoner for his skills and talent, even if he seems regretful two of the years for him were spent trying to be competitive on the Ducati in 2011 and 2012.

"I enjoy the battle with Stoner very much. I can say that now. When I battled with Stoner it was very difficult because he had an incredible talent and he was very, very fast in all situations and conditions. 

"He was a very strong rival. We fought for the championship, sometimes he win, sometimes I won, but it was a great battle. 

"Also because I raced with Yamaha and he raced with Ducati. And then also with different bikes, different teams, but I enjoyed it very much. 

"For sure I want to see Casey and I just want to say ciao to him during this weekend for sure.”

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