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MotoGP 23

Time for Casey Stoner to say goodbye

There’s barely going to be standing room on Phillip Island this weekend.

Advance ticket sales suggest that the crowd will be at least double last year’s and possibly even bigger than the event record, achieved at the very first Australian GP in 1989 when the nation was in the grip of Wayne Gardner fever.

motogp race  Time for Casey Stoner to say goodbye

Aussie fans will be turning out in force to say goodbye to Casey Stoner, their first premier-class champ to whom they’ve had the chance to say a proper farewell. Both Gardner and Mick Doohan made hurried exits from bike racing, due to injury. Gardner announced his retirement a few months after missing the 1992 Australian GP due to a broken leg suffered at Suzuka. Doohan announced his retirement not long after missing Phillip Island in 1999 due to injuries sustained at Jerez.

Gardner famously won the first two Australian GPs, in 1990 beating the up-and-coming Doohan who later accused his compatriot of running him off the track at 190mph, an accusation Gardner vehemently denies. The pair never got on because they are such different characters. Gardner channelled all of his emotion into racing, while Doohan channelled all his emotion out of racing. Gardner wanted to win at home more than anything in the world, Doohan insisted his home GP was just another race.

Stoner is much more like Doohan, his childhood hero. He says it’s the track that really makes his home race so special. And he’s not wrong. Phillip Island is to bike racing what Led Zeppelin are to rock and roll: fast, wild, visceral, full noise.

motogp race  Time for Casey Stoner to say goodbye

Already Stoner has won as many Australian GPs as Gardner and Doohan put together. His is an extraordinary record – five consecutive victories at Phillip Island, four on the Ducati, one on the Honda. If he can make that a straight six on Sunday he will retire a happy man.

It’s not going to be easy though – two problems stand in his way.

Firstly, the right ankle he mashed up at Indianapolis is far from fixed. The ankle sustained complex bone and soft tissue damage which has hampered him at the last two races, though Sunday’s rain-lashed Sepang race – which he finished in third place – made things less physical and therefore less difficult.

Secondly, his Honda continues to chatter like hell. The mismatch between his RC213V and Bridgestone’s 2012 slicks has already cost him the world title; now he’s worried it might spoil his chances of a fairytale and final Island win.

motogp race  Time for Casey Stoner to say goodbye

“It’s frustrating that my last few races are going to be grinding it out on tyres that aren’t a joy to ride,” says Stoner. “When I first tested this bike at the end of last year it was probably the best bike I’ve ever ridden, but now it’s one of the worst and most difficult bikes I’ve had to ride, and it’s all because of [the 2012] tyres. It’s very frustrating to finish my career riding with these issues.”

But at least these two clouds have silver linings.

Phillip Island is an anti-clockwise circuit and Stoner’s chatter problems are less troublesome in left-handers. The chatter is so critical that the differences between the right and left sides of the RCV make all the difference, as HRC vice-president Shuhei Nakamoto explains.

“Machine weight is slightly different on the left and right, so the centre of gravity isn’t exactly over the centre of the machine,” says Nakamoto. “Also, chassis stiffness is different on left and right because the frame body and swingarm are different because the drive chain is on the left, and so on.”

motogp race  Time for Casey Stoner to say goodbye

Stoner’s right ankle will also have an easier time this weekend, because Phillip Island goes left and because it’s a fast, flowing circuit.

“I’m hoping Phillip Island will be quite a lot better,” he adds. “The two tight corners on the track [Honda hairpin and MG] are rights so it’s not ideal, but most of the corners are left-handers. The problem is that my ankle won’t move, it won’t flex when I’m trying to pick up the bike out of corners, so it’s pushing against what I’m trying to do. It makes life hell out of slow corners, but the faster corners aren’t so bad because I don’t need to pick up the bike so quickly to get on the gas.”

Whatever happens, it’s going to be a thrill watching one of GP racing’s all-time greatest talents going for broke for the final time at one of GP racing’s all-time greatest race tracks. If you’re in Australia you’ve probably already bought your tickets, if you’re in Europe it’s going to be worth getting up in the dark to watch.

Add your comments

23 comments on Time for Casey Stoner to say goodbye

  1. N. Weingart, 23 October 2012 17:46

    Thanks Casey, its been inspirational to watch you ride.

  2. Abel, 23 October 2012 19:27

    Dani has also had chatter and has defeated Jorge… Sorry, Casey can be very annoying at times… I won’t miss him at all…

  3. José Luis García Bay, 23 October 2012 20:32

    Sorry I discovered motosportmagazine.com two weeks ago… Nice, interesting articles about my favourite motorsport by a veteran rider and journalist. Thank you.

    Sure the MotoGP fans will miss Casey’s talent and personality around the sport.

    Without Marco Simoncelli (serious title contender for 2012) and with injured Casey leaving the championship, Pedrosa’s nightmares have finished so that clinching the title is a matter of now or never.

    All the best for your next projects Casey and hope you win in Phillip Island

  4. Grant, 23 October 2012 20:53

    And throw in the fact that while Casey may want to win his home GP – will he help Dani win the chamionship by taking points off Lorenzo…It will be an intersting race

  5. Peter Geran, 23 October 2012 22:03

    Wish I was there, but, will have to watch the race from my place in Queensland.

  6. Garry, 24 October 2012 06:06

    I think he is somebody who has taken a lot from the sport and given very little back. He claims to love the sport but is quick to turn his back on it because he doesn’t like where its going. He’s like a petulant child.

    His moaning is of Mansell-esque proportions, he’s is not a great athlete, always sick or broken and he’s not done enough to cement his reputation as a great rider.

    Off you go Casey, we wont miss you and history wont remember you either.

  7. wosi, 24 October 2012 06:27

    “Bridgestone’s 2012 slicks has already cost him the world title.”

    Funny that..I thought it was a couple of crashes and a trip to the kitty litter?

    Everybody’s had the same tyres. Pedrosa accepted HRC upgrades to alleviete chatter and his results improved, Stoner ploughed on with the old frame and he crashed himself out of contention..not for the first time in his career.

    Then there’s the small matter of Lorenzo too.

    Disrespectful to the efforts of others and pure fanboy claptrap from a journalist who should know better.

  8. S. Alloing, 24 October 2012 06:45

    If Stoner wins = 25 points, Pedrossa 2nd = 20 points, Lorenzo 3rd = 16 points. I can’t see where he’s helping Pedrossa by winning, it’s the opposite. The only way he can help Pedrossa is by coming in between him & Lorenzo and honnestly, i don’t see him doing that.
    Hope to see a race instead of a procession ;-)

  9. Tony Geran, 24 October 2012 07:02

    We’ll miss him. Moto GP, will be a lot poorer without him.

  10. Travis, 24 October 2012 08:53

    Abel… Casey has also won races this year, despite the chatter, you may or may not have noticed…

    Gary…
    History and lots of others will remember him. I’ll bet you will even though it sounds like you’d rather not. Jorge will… He did say in a tv interview recently that Casey is the fastest guy he’s ever raced against… Keep the blinkers on though Yeh…

  11. BJB, 24 October 2012 12:04

    Hey Garry and Abel – your view isn’t shared by Jorge:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-24/lorenzo-hails-stoner-as-most-talented-rider/4330938

    and the stats

    Casey:

    Honda 2011 – current = 2 years
    29 races, 14 wins (48.3%), 23 podiums (79.3%), 16 poles, 547 points (18.8)
    Race lead percentage = 42.6% of every MotoGP^ lap raced (342/825)

    Ducati 2007 – 2010 = 4 years
    67 races, 23 wins (34.3%), 42 podiums (62.6%), 22 poles 1092 points (16.3)
    Race lead percentage = 34.9% of every MotoGP^ lap raced (641/1837)

    Rossi:

    Ducati 2011 – current = 2 years,
    32 races, 0 wins (0%), 3 podium (9.37%), 0 poles, 274 points (8.55)
    Race lead percentage = 0% of every MotoGP^ lap raced (0/825)

    Yamaha 2007 – 2010 = 4 years
    67 races, 21 wins (31.3%), 48 podiums (71.6%), 14 poles, 1153 points (17.21)
    Race lead percentage = 22.8% of every MotoGP^ lap raced (419/1837)

  12. Mat Oxley, 24 October 2012 13:22

    To those complaining about Stoner, I would rate him as the most talented rider of the moment. That comes from 25 years of watching trackside. He has more raw speed and natural talent than anyone.

    Two things to remember. The Honda is a much more difficult motorcycle than the Yamaha, which is by far the friendliest bike out there. It always has been, ever since they adopted the big bang engine in 2004.

    Pedrosa has had less chatter this year, possibly because he’s significantly lighter than Stoner.

    Stoner does complain a lot, but there’s a lot to complain about at the moment. MotoGP is in a bit of a mess, in case you hadn’t noticed. And although he does complain, the great thing about him is that he always speaks his mind. That’s something that most modern sportsmen don’t do, for fear of upsetting sponsors etc. Stoner has always said what he thinks and damn the consequences. I admire that greatly.

    Who can say that he hasn’t given a lot to the sport? He is a joy to watch on a motorcycle and he never, ever gives anything less than everything he’s got. Look at what he achieved on the Ducati – riding over the edge every weekend, year after year. Doing things that no one could even get close to emulating. Wasn’t that giving a lot to his sport? True, he’s not the most PR-friendly rider out there (!) but in this age of PR overkill and marketing hype, I take that as a positive, not a negative.

    He’s a racer, judge him by his ability to race, not to sweet-talk journos and fans.

    Fan-boy claptrap? I don’t think so. Just recognition of a sublime talent.

  13. chris, 24 October 2012 13:54

    Stoner speaks straight from the heart, as opposed to the PC-speak most other races spout. Also, he is incredibly talented. Look what he did with the Ducati, the same bike that ruined other riders, he took to a world championship and was still winning with when he left. Dani is more entertaining and shows more skill this year, but of the current 3 aliens, I prefter Stoner and Lorenzo, who I think is very smart and also witty. Stoner and Lorenzo are so evenly matched, they could have had epic battles for years to come, a rivalry spoken of in reverent tones for years. So sad it’s not to be, and I can’t know and won’t tell another human being how to feel.

  14. John Read, 24 October 2012 20:05

    99% of riders in the same position as Stoner would be sitting on the couch counting their money.

    I once had a busted ankle and I am amazed that he is even riding that thing, let alone competing at the top level.

    Whether you like him or not he is braver than most of us can imagine.

    Particularly some of you keyboard heroes out there.

  15. Larry T., 24 October 2012 23:49

    Stoner’s the biggest “head-case” in the sport since Freddie Spencer, but with far less personality. Fun to watch when he’s “ON” but rather tiresome with what seems like constant whining, so his exit from the sport is a mixed bag for me.

  16. ROB ELWELL, 27 October 2012 09:48

    History will not remember Stoner as a great Champion, simply because he was physically and especially mentally, vulnerable. By far his best season was 2007. IMO, this was the last time that he actually enjoyed racing bikes, as the following year Rossi got inside his head and switched the power off. Being sublime for half the races in any season and a crasher for the rest does not make a legend. He’s bike racing’s equivalent of Reutemann or Coulthard.

  17. Rich Ambroson, 28 October 2012 05:49

    Count me in as one who will miss Casey Stoner in the sport. Enjoyed watching him race, and agree with Mat Oxley’s response, that he’s given back by his performances. What he did on that beast of a Ducati was impressive as all get out, ans as Oxley has also pointed out, the Honda isn’t as ‘rider-friendly’ as the Yamaha.

    Someone compared him (in an unfavorable manner) to Mansell with the ‘moaning’. Well, I loved watching Nigel throw a car around and do amazing things on four wheels, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Casey work it on two wheels. More than impressive.

    All the best to Casey Stoner. Enjoyed having someone like that in the sport.

  18. JCR, 28 October 2012 18:08

    Your retort is one of the best bits you have written Mat. It saddens me that on this illustrious magazines forum we appear to have “posters” who lack grace and knowledge about a given topic and who would be better suited to Yahoo or the like!
    Casey Stoner is without question the greatest talent that we have seen in motorcycle racing in well over 25 years. His retirement at the age of 27 is a sad reflection on the state of MotoGP today and the people running the sport.
    One of the posters above liken him to a Reutemann or Coultard and that in itself displays a lack of knowledge of motor racing history. Carlos Reutemann was one of the most sublime talents ever to grace F1 but he had serious demons in his head; Coultard was an excellent number two driver who excelled on his day. Casey had very serious health issues that he overcame, and returned even stronger than before. Yes he has crashed but that is down to the fact that he takes a bike to the limit something the supposed “GOAT” is not prepared or able to do!
    What a great shame that we will never see Stoner and Rossi in the same Ducati team together; don’t think it would take rocket science to know the outcome of that one!

  19. Rato, 2 November 2012 22:34

    Although quite talented and with potential to win, he will be the champion which will have more people not regretting his retirement. Of course, I don’t remember anyone leaving the sport (any sport) on such a grudge.

  20. ROB ELWELL, 5 November 2012 21:56

    @JCR Reutemann Coulthard and Stoner were all underachieversby by their own standards. This was due a lack of mental fortitude. There wasn’t enough mongrel in any of them. Stoner also had unresolved “tummy troubles” which Ducati were not impressed by. I don’t care how quick he was when the mood took him, bike racing fans will always admire resilient riders. The way that Rossi dismantled him in ’08 still makes me shake my head in disbelief.

  21. JCR, 7 November 2012 17:40

    @INCAPS
    Everyone, no matter who, is an underachiever in some sense or other. The world is full of “ifs” and I would far rather base my opinion on others from what they have achieved!
    Mere “tummy troubles” you are either ignorant of medical issues or if not I would not wish to have you looking after my health.
    Are you seriously saying that a guy who wrestled that monstrous Ducati is lacking in “resilience”? Personally I would suggest that the guy lacking “resilience” is the guy who ran away from it, after two years of lacklustre performance.
    To say that Stoner only performed when the mood took him is the most absurd thing I have heard in years.

  22. ecxel, 12 November 2012 14:49

    motogp ga akan pernah sama lagi tanpa CASEY STONER ..
    bye casey, best of luck to you in your future endeavors

  23. Mark M, 21 November 2012 08:41

    @ ROB ELWELL

    History will not remember Stoner as a great champion?? He is one of only 20 riders in the history of the sport to have been inducted into the MotoGP legends club, goose.

    As for being physically and mentally vulnerable, on average he won every 3rd MotoGP race he contested and 80% of those were on a Ducati. If that makes him physically and mentally vulnerable, what does that say about the others?

    As for Rossi getting inside Stoners head, that is an absolute classic. Head to head Stoner has 38 wins and Rossi 26. Who got inside who’s head?

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