Glowing report from the Champion on Stoner. Rossi warns of tougher battles with Stoner http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/09/30/2377523.htm Italian motorcycling superstar Valentino Rossi warns it will only get tougher to stop rival Casey Stoner after he regained the world crown by pipping the defending champion. The Yamaha ace, dubbed the Doctor for his cool and clinical planning and racing, credited the 22-year-old Australian as being perhaps the toughest opponent he has ever battled. "I think Stoner next year will be back stronger again," Rossi, 29, said as he wrapped up his sixth premier-class title, and the first in three years, at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. "So maybe he is the hardest rival I have ever had, more than (Sete) Gibernau and all the others I fought against in the past." Gibernau was the main challenger for Rossi's crown until 2005. The Spanish firebrand retired when Stoner replaced him at Ducati for 2007. It was at Motegi that Stoner crushed Rossi's title hopes last year when the Australian finished sixth and the Italian dropped to 13th with brake trouble. "Last year I was sorry that after so many successful years, some people thought Valentino was finished and Casey was the new Valentino," said Rossi. But Rossi said that this year, "I rode the best of my career." "I think 2009 will be even more difficult than this year," Rossi said. "But first I want to finish this year and try to win the final three races." In their latest duel here, Rossi overtook Stoner with 11 laps to go and beat him by 1.943 seconds, ending their battle for the title. Rossi gained an unbeatable 92-point lead with three more races remaining in the season. Honda ace and Spaniard Dani Pedrosa finished third and is placed third in the MotoGP standings, 11 points behind Stoner. Rossi's five-year reign in 500cc and MotoGP ended in 2006 when he lost to Nicky Hayden despite winning five races against two for the former US Superbike champion. "As I said, until I stop riding a bike, my objective will always be to win," said Rossi. "There are many strong riders but of course I hope that in the future nobody will win like Valentino Rossi." Resurgent Rossi Rossi's fortunes have turned this year after he managed to acquire Bridgestone tyres, which proved a technical edge over Michelin and helped Stoner triumph last year, despite Yamaha's longtime ties with the French supplier. After struggling to find a tyre-machine balance in his Yamaha M1 in the first three races, Rossi won the fourth round in China. But Stoner took three straight rounds - in Britain, the Netherlands and Germany - in June and July after his Ducati GP8's electronics control was upgraded. Rossi stopped Stoner's winning streak at the US GP in Laguna Seca on July 20. Stoner, starting from his fifth straight pole position, fought tail-to-nose with Rossi but he slid onto the gravel with nine laps to go and finished second. Rossi also won a storm-shortened inaugural event at the legendary Indianapolis Speedway two weeks earlier, breaking the previous mark of 68 set by countryman Giacomo Agostini more than 30 years ago. Stoner said, "I'm just disappointed that we made two mistakes in the mid-point of the season that allowed him (Rossi) to open up such a big advantage." Rossi has won eight races and Stoner four so far in the 18-round season. "He's had an amazing season. He only made one mistake at Assen," the Australian said, referring to Rossi's spill in the opening lap of the June 28 Dutch GP in which he finished 11th. Stoner is already focused on his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island next Sunday, saying he hoped to "finish the season strongly."