Two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner is back in the Grand Prix paddock this weekend for the first time since 2018 and held a special press conference in Portimao. 

The former Ducati and Honda rider - won titles with both manufacturers - the last of those in 2012 (Honda), remains the last Ducati rider to win a world championship, despite them getting close in recent years. 

Most of that came from three-time series runner-up Andrea Dovizioso who took the 2017 championship down to the final race before losing out to Marc Marquez. 

And while Francesco Bagnaia lost out on the chance to fight for the 2021 title two weeks ago at Misano, Stoner feels they are and have always been ‘on the brink’ of winning again.

"For a long time now they've been close to having, you know, the complete package and getting the job done," said Stoner. 

"But unfortunately, you know, it's again, which Ducati rider is going to be fast on which weekend. We need to see a little bit more consistency and maybe a bike that is going to suit all the tracks. 

"We've always had that issue, all the manufacturers have good tracks and bad tracks. But yeah, certain styles and certain circuits that do seem to be a struggle. So they just need to create a little bit more consistency and a little bit, let's say, easier package at certain times. 

"But Ducati have always been on the brink. If everything sort of swings their way, yes, they can win a championship. 

"But when you've got Yamaha that's producing a great package year after year and I mean what a year Yamaha has had across a whole lot of different forms of motorsport this year. So they're constantly putting out a package that is very, very difficult to beat."

Stoner, who shared his best years racing against Valentino Rossi, also touched upon the two’ long-standing rivalry ahead of the Italian retiring at the conclusion of this season. 

"You know, me and Valentino have had some amazing battles, we had a fantastic rivalry. Some good points and bad points, some things went my way and other things really didn't," added Stoner. 

"But there was one thing that was fantastic about racing Valentino, and it's that I got to learn from him, whether it was on track or off the track with his media. 

"He was always very savvy, and very clever, very cunning. So I got to learn a heck of a lot. 

"And I think also, my achievements in my career were validated all the more having raced against him in his era."

Rossi repaid the complement by calling Stoner ‘an incredible talent’ in his media debrief following day-one of the Algarve MotoGP. 

Rossi said this about his former rival: "I enjoy the battle with Stoner very much. I can say that now. When I battled with Stoner it was very difficult because he had an incredible talent and he was very, very fast in all situations and conditions. 

"He was a very strong rival. We fought for the championship, sometimes he win, sometimes I won, but it was a great battle. 

"Also because I raced with Yamaha and he raced with Ducati. And then also with different bikes, different teams, but I enjoyed it very much. 

"For sure I want to see Casey and I just want to say ciao to him during this weekend for sure."