Casey Stoner has stunned the motorsport world by announcing his retirement at the end of the current MotoGP season in a press conference at Le Mans. The two-time World Champion leads the standings by one point from Jorge Lorenzo but has confirmed that this year will be his last.
Stoner made his debut in the premier class in 2006, taking pole position at the second attempt in Qatar before claiming his first MotoGP victory at the same circuit a year later. That would be the first of ten wins in a sensational season with Ducati which saw him win the world championship by 125 points.
The Australian would finish runner-up to Valentino Rossi in 2008 before illness prevented him from mounting a championship challenge in 2009. After another tough season with Ducati in 2010, Casey moved to Repsol Honda and returned to his dominant best, matching his winning record from 2007 and taking 12 pole positions on his way to a sensational second title. Stoner is in strong contention for a third crown after winning the last two races, taking him to fifth in the all-time list of premier class victories, two behind Mike Hailwood.
At the age of 26, Stoner is retiring despite his best years arguably being ahead of him but rumours have circulated in recent weeks that retirement was a possibility. Casey denied those rumours in Portugal a week ago but today has confirmed his intention to call it a day.
Speaking in the pre-race press conference, Stoner seemed to suggest that the rumoured rule changes in years to come, including a rev limit and a possible control ECU, as well as the movement towards CRT bikes, have played a part in his decision.
“After so many years of doing this sport which I love, and which myself and my family made so many sacrifices for, after so many years of trying to get to where we have gotten to at this point, this sport has changed a lot and it has changed to the point where I am not enjoying it. I don’t have the passion for it and so at this time it’s better if I retire now.”
“There are a lot of things that have disappointed me, and also a lot of things I have loved about this sport, but unfortunately the balance has gone in the wrong direction. And so, basically, we won’t be continuing any more. It would be nice if I could say I would stay one more year, but then where does it stop? So we decided to finish everything as we are now.”