Valentino Rossi has given a frank account as to what he thinks of his main MotoGP rivals heading into this season's championship, most notably arch-nemesis' Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner.
Rossi, who is gearing up for his race debut with Ducati in less than two weeks time at Losail, has been doing the media rounds in his home country to celebrate the two Italian 'motorcycling institutions' coming together for the first time.
However, it is his interview with talk show host Piero Chiambretti, which is set to be broadcast in Italy on Friday, that is likely to garner much attention, not least for comments made about certain rivals.
An excerpt taken from the show and transcribed by Sportmediaset.com
sees Rossi call former FIAT Yamaha team-mate 'unpleasant', while Stoner – though the favourite in Rossi's eyes – is let down by often 'repeating the same mistakes'.
“Stoner is the favourite for the championship, but I also say that to bring a jinx on him,” he jokes. “I give him 10 out of 10 for speed and talent, but a bit less for tactics and cunning. He is a mad man who often repeats the same mistake.
“Jorge is a great because everybody agrees about him in the sense that everybody thinks he is unpleasant. He is strong, he deserves 9.5. I won't say he is intelligent because that's a strong word. Let's say he is crafty.”
Rossi also touches upon his Ducati team-mate Hayden, revealing there will not be a return of the infamous 'wall' that split himself and Lorenzo in the Yamaha pit garage.
“Hayden is strong, he deserves an 8. He is my team-mate and therefore is my first rival. The wall? With Hayden there won't be one, whereas there was with Lorenzo because I was hoping to not teach him all of my tricks. That is something that generated so much controversy, but things passed from one side to the other anyway.
“Simoncelli deserves 8.5,” he says moving on to his friend. “He still needs to show more, but he has a very quick Honda and he will certainly be a thorn in my side.”
Finally, Rossi harks back to his bitter rivalry with countryman Max Biaggi, claiming the reigning World Superbike Champion didn't learn how to deal with defeat.
“I look back on those fights with fondness,” he adds. “Away from the track, he used various tricks to try and destabilise me. Knowing how to lose is one of the most difficult things and Biaggi was never very good at that.”