MotoGP superstar Casey Stoner has accused Ducati's Valentino Rossi of deliberately 'belittling' his dominant capture of the world crown for Honda in 2011.
The Australian rider was responding to claims by Rossi that the factory Repsol Honda squad had utilised a huge financial budget to bolster Stoner's championship challenge.
However, in an exclusive interview with Italian magazine Motosprint, Stoner – who won 10 races en route to his second MotoGP title last season – hit back at his fierce rival and claimed he did not receive the recognition he deserved during his time at Ducati.
“Valentino is saying and doing everything to belittle what was done by myself, my team, and Honda last year. It's not true that Honda spent so much money, because it's not a company of stupid people.
“It made no sense to invest a lot on a bike, the 800cc, on the verge of being retired, while in the meantime the new 1000cc bike was being developed.
"As a matter of fact Honda in 2011 didn't do much more than usual and the proof is that the 2011 bike wasn't so different from the 2010 one, except for the gearbox. My bike remained practically the same throughout the season.
“The truth is that Honda already had a good bike even before my arrival – it just needed new strength coming from the outside, fresh strength able to make the difference.”
Stoner was a cut above his key opponents last season, with Rossi a shadow of his former self as he struggled to make an impact on the Ducati following his switch from Yamaha.
And the reigning MotoGP champ says Rossi's woes on the Desmosedici have only served to highlight his own ability, with Stoner clinching the title for Ducati in 2007 and winning races for the iconic Italian marque in each of his following three seasons with the manufacturer, never finishing outside the top four in the championship.