Two-time MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner says it would be a shame if Valentino Rossi is not racing for a factory team in 2021. The Australian also wonders if Rossi should have retired earlier and is instead now at risk of tarnishing his legacy.
"I believe if he left the sport a little earlier he would have left a legacy, which he still always will," Stoner said, in an interview on the 2 Wheels show (Tuesday, June 16 at 8:15 p.m. HKT on FOX Sports Asia). "But now he's showing himself to be very beatable. ... It's disappointing to see someone, who anyone would have wanted to be in their team and paid an absolute fortune to have him, now [likely] demoted to a satellite team."
Rossi is no stranger to success with nine world championships in Grand Prix motorcycle racing to his name, but the Italian will be leaving the Yamaha Factory team at the end of this season. There has been speculation that the 41-year-old could continue with the satellite Petronas Yamaha SRT outfit.
Stoner had a fierce rivalry with Rossi throughout his career -- one which threatened to boil over on many occasions. But Stoner has sympathy for the way Rossi's career is coming to an end.
"I think Valentino still has potential to get some great results and maybe push to some victories in the future, without a doubt," Stoner said. "You don't just lose it. It is sad to see him not necessarily threatening for the podium as much as he used to."
Marc Marquez is currently the man to beat in MotoGP. His top-class debut season came after Stoner retired in 2012 and the two never faced off. British rider Cal Crutchlow has even claimed he would pay "good money" to witness this dream race.
"I've always been asked that question. Do I think I can beat Marc? [In] some races, yes," Stoner said. "The fact that Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso] has, Jorge [Lorenzo] has, Valentino has, Dani [Pedrosa] has ... if other people can beat Marc, of course I can.
"But, over a championship, Marc -- especially in the last few years -- has become extremely consistent, ironed out a lot of his weaknesses and he'll be very tough to beat."