Casey Stoner believes it won't be possible to know who is going to be competitive in MotoGP 2009 until this Sunday's Qatar season-opener has concluded.
“It's been a bit like that [Stoner and Rossi at the front] for the past two years, but you never know what's going to happen this year,” said the Ducati Marlboro star. “We've seen Chris and Loris be very competitive on the Suzuki. Jorge has also been very competitive.
“We haven't seen Dani's potential because of his unfortunate injury. Andrea now with a factory bike, my new team-mate [Nicky Hayden] - I don't think anybody has really shown what they can do yet.
“We all know when the race starts the crap stops, so we'll just have to see what everybody is made of.”
Stoner, the 2007 world champion and 2008 runner-up, underwent bone graft surgery after the end of last season, but believes his wrist won't be a factor.
“No worries about my wrist. I still haven't got the movement I want but the pain has gone away,” he said. “After the first night at the Qatar test [in early March] we were able to ride pretty much at 100 percent. Since then it's given me absolutely no grief and I'm pretty sure we can just concentrate on getting this championship underway at a reasonable level and not have to play catch-up.”
Stoner's Desmosedici GP9 contrasts even further with its Japanese rivals this season following the introduction of a carbon-fibre chassis and swingarm.
“The new chassis has made a big difference, and the new swing-arm makes the bike move around a lot less. It's easier for me to ride,” he declared.
Stoner has been fastest in all three 2009 pre-season tests and has won at Qatar for the past two seasons. The Australian has also won more 800cc races than any other rider.