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Racing was close in 2006 for many reasons. Using Stoner's LCR Honda does not help your argument, as it was in fact the worst Honda on the grid. No factory support and third rate Michelins. It wouldn't have looked very good for Repsol if (relative) unknown Stoner was beating Dani all the time would it?
Rossi was hampered in 2006, between Yamaha not getting the frame right which caused his early season problems and Rossi apparent lack of skill of not staying away from Elias (relax, that's a joke). Had Yamaha got it right, it wouldn't have been close as Rossi would have walked the season away.
It was closer because there were more riders in the same skill set bracket. Now, not so much. 99,26,46,93 are in a catergory by themselves, everyone else, not so much.