Casey Stoner was regarded by many in the MotoGP paddock as the ultimate hard ass, especially during the last few years of his career. He raced constantly with a decided inferiority complex even after winning two World Championships.
Whispers followed Stoner after his first title in 2007, on a Ducati, that he won because of the superiority of the Desmosedici or the Bridgestone tires it rolled on, not because of his riding skill. History proved that mental mirage to be preposterous, as Stoner is the only man to win a MotoGP race on a Ducati since 2008.
But that didn't stop Stoner from being pissed at the world. His crown of thorns only became sharper in 2009 when he missed three races due to illness. Rumors swirled that some inside the corporate headquarters of Ducati and sponsor Philip Morris questioned Stoner's dedication to racing as his mystery sickness eventually was diagnosed as lactose intolerance.
And who can forget Stoner's calm "So, you ran out of talent?" blast that nailed Valentino Rossi square between the eyes after Rossi came to Stoner's garage in 2011 at Jerez in a ham-fisted attempt to apologize for submarining Stoner out of the race?
All of those anecdotes about Stoner's tenacity made Jorge Lorenzo's comparison of Stoner and his heir at Repsol Honda, rookie phenom Marc Marquez, even more stunning after Marquez edged Lorenzo for the British Grand Prix pole in a thrilling, frantic game of raising the ante last Saturday at Silverstone.
"Dani (Pedrosa) is very smooth, so this has some benefits, but at this moment Marc is a more complete rider," Lorenzo said. "He is more like Casey. But the difference between Casey and him is that Marc never gives up, when Casey sometimes gives up. Marc never gives up, and for this is even harder to beat, no?
"Maybe Casey at Phillip Island is faster, or in some little moments faster than Marc, but Marc never gives up."
Rossi also tipped his visor to Marquez's deceptive yet extraordinary mental strength - the kid almost never is seen without a smile on his face, a distinct contrast to Stoner's dour final season in MotoGP in 2012.
"Especially his mind, because Marquez started this year for win the championship," Rossi said. "In 2000, when I was a rookie, I didn't start for win the championship. I thought it was impossible in the first year. Maybe for that reason, but not just that, I don't win.
"Marquez arrived already with the mindset to try and win in the first season, and sincerely I've never seen a rookie like him, in all the motorsports I know."