The 24-year-old Yamaha Factory rider also reveals how his icy relationship with rival Dani Pedrosa has thawed in recent years, and believes a female rider will soon make an impact on the top level of motorcycle racing.
A. Yes, I see myself as being stronger than ever. I have more experience, it’s my fifth year in MotoGP, I have already been champion, the pressure is not new and physically I am also better. I feel like a bull, I am very, very strong.
A. I believe it will be a big year for us. We are in good shape but we always have to wait until the first race, we have to wait and see how it goes on track in a race situation. The 1000cc is a much better bike, it has a lot more potential, a greater capacity to improve and in pre-season we have got much closer to (2011 champion) Casey Stoner.
A. I’m much happier with the 1000, it is more fun to ride; it moves better, it can skid for longer and I see it as being more competitive, with more options. It is more fun to ride and I feel better on it.
A. More than weak points, he has strong points! Casey has at times struggled with the pressure of having someone on his tail, but that it not to say he has not worked on this and matured in this respect. He was weaker in the past but it seems he has improved – he has to ensure he doesn’t drop.
A. I always give the maximum on the track, in 45 minutes you have to know how to control and economise what you give. You need to be in the best condition physically to maximise your recovery and I am better than ever in this respect. So I will always aim to be at between 95 and 100 per cent of my potential, and the speed will not impede this because it is part of the whole.
A. No, much less so now. When we see each other in the paddock we say hi and have a chat, no problems. The truth is we have a cordial, friendly relationship, with a lot of mutual respect and without the tension there was some years ago.
A. I don’t know! I think that everyone in MotoGP thinks they are the best, when you speak to them privately they will always insist so because every top athlete thinks he is the best and does things the right way. I’ve always believed that I can be the best and that I can win and I think it is clear that Pedrosa is one of the best too – like me, Valentino Rossi or Stoner.
A. Yes, without doubt, I have seen lots of good things with the women racing at the moment, they are brave and very quick and I believe that soon enough we will see a woman doing something really big in motorcycling. Elena Rossell is a bit green but she is improving and learning lots in the CEV Championship. The best thing is that she is not alone, this year there are more and soon we will see someone making an impact on the main championship.