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Enigmatic Stoner quits at the top of his game

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Matt Roberts | 20:28 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2012

Since making his Grand Prix debut as a fresh-faced 15-year-old wildcard in the 125cc race at Donington Park back in 2001, Casey Stoner has made no secret of his intention to make his racing career a short one. Even so, the reigning world champion's decision to walk away from the sport now, at the peak of his powers, has come as a huge shock to everybody in the MotoGP paddock.

Always an enigmatic and outspoken character, Stoner cited a diminishing passion for the sport and his disappointment at the current shift away from pure prototype racing as the primary reasons behind his decision, although the fact he became a father just a couple of months ago has surely played a part.

It has long been a mystery to many - and most of the messages I have received on Twitter over the past few hours are testament to this - that a young man could fail to enjoy the money, the adulation and the fame that have come his way due to his unparalleled ability to ride a motorcycle.

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Sure, his earnings over the past five years alone will enable him to head home without needing to earn another penny for the rest of his life but I can assure you that the attention is something he has genuinely never been comfortable with.

His unease in front of the cameras and microphones has created an uncomfortable relationship with the press and, by extension, the many thousands of fans who criticise him for a "lack of personality".

It has long been a bugbear of Casey, who has no interest in celebrity culture, that he could not be appreciated purely for his riding ability and in his surprise news conference he made reference to those who have constantly questioned him throughout the highs and lows of his career.

Having left Australia as a 14-year-old, when his parents sold everything they had and moved to Europe to support his fledgling career, he has spent the last 12 years living in the spotlight, under pressure and occasionally under attack.

He has grown up away from home, often away from his loved ones and, for the past two months, away from his newborn daughter. Of course, many people do this... but only because they have to.

Casey has handled the pressure in his own way, often making mistakes but learning to cope every day in front of the unforgiving focus of a camera lens without benefiting from the lessons of the "normal life" he so craves.

In November he will throw his suitcase down at his remote farm in deepest New South Wales and, for the first time in his life, know that he does not have to pack it again until he decides to do so.

That moment may never come, or it may be the moment that he rediscovers his love for the only thing he knows.

In the meantime, whatever your thoughts about Stoner the rider or Stoner the man, it cannot be denied that it is the courage and the conviction of character that has taken him to two world titles already - and makes him a favourite to take a third this season - that sees him walk away from MotoGP at the peak of his powers.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Matt... where do you think this leaves Moto GP? With no Stoner and the very sad loss of Marco last year and Rossi in his twighlight years can Moto GP survive as we know it?

    Much respect to Casey though for a brave decision, I am a huge VR fan but without Casey I wouldnt of enjoyed races like Laguna 08 as much as I did.

    I hope people respect his decision and best wishes to him and his family. He will be missed.

    Nobody can ride the Ducati like he could.

  • Comment number 2.

    I’ll hold my hands up and say that wasn’t his biggest fan but I certainly do appreciate the way he could ride a those 800cc MotoGP bikes around a race track. I think the sport will certainly be worse without him competing even though he doesn’t have the ‘rock star’ status of Valentino. I agree with the post number 1, the Laguna Seca race in 2008 was unbelievable because of Stoner and Rossi.

    The much more pressing issues I think he [Stoner] raises is what direction is the sport heading? For sure it is better with a decent size grid, but its not great seeing the likes of Edwards and de Puniet who are extremely talented guys running around and finishing 15th.The last season I think I look back on as being a classic was 2009. It’s a shame that every race it only ever looks like either Stoner or Lorenzo are going to win – since the start of the 2011 season to now just before Le Mans, only 3 races have been won by someone who isnt called Casey or Jorge….

    All the best to Casey in his retirement.

  • Comment number 3.

    Well not been the biggest fan of the man … but to have the courage of your convictions and leave at the top of your game well done and big respect!!
    Seems we have the same scenario as G Crosby in 1982

  • Comment number 4.

    I guess I'm in the 'couldn't give a monkeys' camp about Stoner's retirement. Whilst he is undoubtedly a superb rider, he seems to have a penchant for constant whining.

    Retiring because of the sport direction seems to add more weight to my comment. Does he only enjoy being in the position of having the best bike and can't see the benefit to the fans of closer racing through the whole grid?

  • Comment number 5.

    this is bad for the sport , it's almost the the equivalent of either alonso or hamilton quitting formula one.

    from next season until he also decides to retire jorge would be world champion, i honestly don't see anyone else challenging, maybe danny pedrosa, but seriously doubt it.

  • Comment number 6.

    In the short term, its a loss sure.

    However, in the long term, MotoGP will benefit more from having packed and closer grids than retaining one superstar rider. Thus, if the only means to achieve the big grids are moving away from pure prototypes - so be it.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's a huge loss for sure. Especially at this time, as mentioned in the 1st post, when there seems to be a lack of genuine superstars. In my view Stoner was a brilliant rider but he never seemed to enjoy himself and that's what made Rossi and others (Marco) so special. The passion just wasn't there with Casey.
    In time, other riders will come through the ranks and the GP class will once again be the best motor racing on the planet, but it will have to endure a few years of comparative dullness before reaching the levels that Rossi and Stoner were hitting a few years back.

    Oh, and those that continually say Stoner was the only one to ever master the Ducati. Yes he was, but when he rode it he had a massive HP advantage over the other bikes. Let's not forget that. Sure it may have handled like a pig but on the straights it was warp speed ahead !

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm gutted that Stoner's retiring. I've never been his biggest fan, but losing a sportsman at the peak of his powers is always a big loss. But its his decision, and only he can make it.

    On a brighter note, much bigger chance for Cal to be on the podium! :D

  • Comment number 9.

    A bold and honest move by the biggest moaner in motorsport. Could this inspire his closest rival in the whining stakes (Lewis Hamilton), to do the same? Let's hope so.

  • Comment number 10.

    As Matt said leaving home as a 14 yr old and coping with the pressure of knowing your family have sold the lot to gamble on your future is a huge burden for any kid. That was one of the reasons I had time for him.
    Brave call though, you wonder what the motivational reasons were behind calling it now, in France, when Phillip Island would have been the natural venue and time.
    One things for sure, there is going to be some battle for the empty seat. Will Repsol finally get the dream Spanish duo of Dani/Jorge.........

    Keep up the good work Cal !!

  • Comment number 11.

    There will be a massive hole left in MotoGP, There is simply Nobody out there who can touch him at present, Just hope that he doesn't regret it in 5 years and come back rubbish as shusual !!
    Prepare to see Lorenzo on the top step every race !

  • Comment number 12.

    I admire his courage in making the move, probably knowing that there will be considerable criticism of it. But, if he wants to experience his daughter as she grows up then it was a choice he had to make. It will be sad to see him go - he was always great to watch.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good decision by Stoner. He's proven his point won twice in the top class and doesn't need the attention so craved by the Europeans, or the money I assume. I've missed his wife on the grid and at the end and I guess she has more important matters now.
    He'll never be a Rossi, riding around at the back of the field remembering the good old days.

  • Comment number 14.

    Back in the next two years.

  • Comment number 15.

    Not his biggest fan by a long chalk, (his continuous moaning was grating on the nerves). But good luck to him and his young family in his new life.
    I agree with what he says about the shift away from pure prototypes in MotoGp. CRT doing around the same times WSB ? NOT RIGHT !!
    Will he be missed ? With Bradl, Marquez and Vinales coming through quickly. Not sure really.
    Oh and people who say that he was the only one to tame the Ducati.. I will remind them of Bayliss in Valencia

  • Comment number 16.

    a sad day for those who like to watch great racers - which stoner is - that boy rides with serious speed. Jorge will go to repsol and link up with Dani - that will really cause some fireworks would love to be in that team meeting lol Dovi will get the works yamaha ride (it's who you know) just like he gets the better parts over Cal (if you believe Dovi bought them himself as reported you would believe anything). That will free up the spot for bradley for his tech 3 ride in 2013 - looking forward to it if that happens like that - an all british rider line up for tech 3 come on!!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Best of luck to him and his family, all sports competitors do it because they enjoy the sport, not because they crave 24/7 media intrusion into their lives.
    Given that he recently tested a V8 Supertourer we'll no doubt see him at Bathurst next year, less media intrusion from the Aussie press.
    Moto GP will survive, after all from the Motor Bike manufacturers perspective its about selling bikes not promoting the riders, thats a failing of the media needing to fill column inches or TV schedules with drivel.

  • Comment number 18.

    Well, hopefully all of the whinging pom "Casey Moaner" armchair experts will shut the #$%! up now. Losers.

  • Comment number 19.

    Will I miss him? Personally no - I take nothing away from the fact that he is a great racer - after all two world titles don't come easy. This sport needs the big enigmatic characters, those who aren't afraid to have a battle and a barge with each other during the race - quite frankly it is bordering on boring - even Colin Edwards tweeted after the last GP and said are all GP races this tedious! and quite frankly at the moment yes they are! Maybe the move up of some of the rising stars in Moto2 (which is far more exciting to watch these days as is Moto3) will see a bit of excitement and energy coming back in to the sport - and maybe Rossi can get himself back on a decent bike and mix things up at the front again. In my opinion the loss of Marco has had a greater impact on the sport than the retirement of Stoner will have.

  • Comment number 20.

    Unlike most people seem to be on here i am a massive Stoner fan, sure he doesn't have the personality of Rossi but watching this man tame the Ductai was the best piece of motorcycling I have ever seen. Thank you Stoner for your amazing riding and enjoy retirement, if there is any justice you will go down as one of the best ever for taming that ductai like noone else can...

  • Comment number 21.

    When he won his first world title in '07 we all said it was the bike. Because he couldn't be as fast as VR, could he? Well we all know now that it was Casey's shear speed and talent. I hope he has a year off and finds his desire to ride a motogp bike 'like he stole it' again

  • Comment number 22.

    Brilliant rider FULL STOP!!! all the best for your retirement casey!!!!
    posts 9 and 18 = poor comments!

  • Comment number 23.

    So it's goodbye to the whining Mr Stoner. Well, he wasn't one of my favourites, the constant whinging about everything and anything really grated on me - very un Australian actually - nevertheless he was one of the greatest naturally talented riders in history and no one has given Rossi a harder time than Casey Stoner. I'm a fully fledged VR fan, not just because of his talent and riding style but also because of his character and charisma - something that Casey Stoner never had or showed - and sports need these kind of people - but they also need rivalry with teeth and that's what we had for a good few years with CS and VR. I don't think we'll see that kind of rivalry anywhere on the grid for a few years to come and that's a sad thing.

  • Comment number 24.

    Wow, what a surprise. But a good way to go, when you’re right at the top of your game, and hopefully walking away rather than being stretchered off like Doohan and Foggy. I half wish VR had quit a couple of years back after the Mugello accident, he’s not been the same since and it’s horrible to see him tip-toe around in midfield. At least when you quit at the top everyone thinks you would have gone on to even greater things than you probably would have, and I’m sure many next year will be saying, ‘if only Casey was still racing…’. Personally I won’t really miss him, for sure he's hugely good at it but not in my view one of the greats - you need to win a few in a row to earn that title, and a bit of charisma helps too - but in any case the racing at the front is rarely exciting to watch any more, it needed the likes of the sadly missed Marco and of course VR. Maybe it'll all come good in a year or two, like WSBK this year.

  • Comment number 25.

    In response to this

    7. At 08:29 18th May 2012, fatClyde wrote:

    Oh, and those that continually say Stoner was the only one to ever master the Ducati. Yes he was, but when he rode it he had a massive HP advantage over the other bikes. Let's not forget that. Sure it may have handled like a pig but on the straights it was warp speed ahead !

    I know this is in good humour but its very unfair :) The laptime is made on carrying speed into the corner and getting good exit traction. If the balance is not good then it does not matter how much power you have. Valentino is discovering this now.

    And its clear not even he can understand how Casey made the laptimes. The way he disappears in the first laps on cold tyres has Lorenzo scratching his head, he just cannot work out how Casey does it.

    The fastest guys in the world can't quite understand how, when he does so little testing, he is able to do these things. What does that mean?

    It means when it comes to riding motorcycles there is no doubt Casey is a genius. We have to go back to Wayne Rainey to see something so special. Glad I did.

  • Comment number 26.

    that was a bolt out of the blue at 26 years old only ! He could have surpassed Doohan's record of 5 world titles and 54 wins for sure.

    Whilst he was a bit of whinger there is no doubt he is a supremely talented rider having got the best of every bike he's ridden in MotoGP as his successors have never achieved the same results being it on a Honda LCR ( a one bike team) and Ducati ( even Rossi is having trouble to get more out of it!)

    You can understand that being a parent does change his life due to the physical and mental demands of the sport. Also the concers about his health problems including arm pump issues this season probably has made him realise he can;t keep putting his body at risk and race around problems before a big crash may happen

    He may not like the changes but it still has not stopped him being a front runner

    He is one of a few riders alongside Rossi to win titles in his debut season with new teams speaks for itself

    Its a sad loss for MotoGP but then it opens the door for another era... Rossi maybe on his last legs as well but there are plenty of riders who will take up the mantle

    this leaves undoubtedly Lorenzo and Pedrosa as the front men going forward but there are others like Marquez, Bradl and others from Moto 2 coming through

    Last time I remember this happening was when Doohan retired through injury and there was a brief lull in establishing a doiminant rider and bike with Criville and Roberts Jnr winning world titles before Rossi suddenly turned up and took over when it could have been Biaggi at the time from early 2000's

  • Comment number 27.

    @ comment No. 9

    Yawn!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    @duke999r. If your going to use slang terms please use the correct ones. POM stands for "Prisoner of His Majesty" so in reality Australians are poms.

    Im not sad to see him go, he really was "Casey Moaner". All he did was Moan and make up excuses when truth be told if someone was on a bike as good as he couldn't handle the pressure and would fall off. How many times did we see in 2008-09 season he fell off. All rossi would ahve to do is matching for a few lasp almost Guaranteed he would go down. He could only win on abike that was perfect he hasnt got the ability to win on a bike that isnt. He's not a fighter and 9/10 you'd expect him to lose a dog fight.

    There is definately some potetial coming through who will challenge pedrosa and lorenzo. Ofcourse there is crutchlow, bautista, marquez, bradl and others so i dont think it will be bad thing.

    And ofcourse we can not right off the amzing 46.

  • Comment number 29.

    No one rider is bigger than the sport, Duke, Surtees ,Agostini, Sheene, Roberts, Lawson, Spencer, Doohan and Rossi! Who will be the next superstar? I for one cant wait to find out! They will get the rules right and a new star will emerge! If you want to know who, just watch the fantastic racing in Moto GP2!

  • Comment number 30.

    MotoGP has been a procession since the 990 era ended. The only reason any of the races this season have been watchable is because of Cal. Watching the WSB at Donnington and BSB at Oulton Park merely confirmed that real racing on two wheels lies away from motoGP. It's a sad fact that motoGP is now no longer relevant for manufacturers which is why BMW and Aprilia chose WSB for their new machines and development and not motoGP. Stoner leaving is sad for motoGP but not for bike racing as motoGP has been rubbish as a spectacle for many years. Will he be missed? Not by fans of actual racing as racing doesn't happen in motoGP.

  • Comment number 31.

    @thefatoftheland

    The Ducati Stoner rode is an entirely different beast to the current one. Nobody knows if Stoner could get the same performance out of this years bike. Also, when the pressure was on, Casey cried off with mysterious health issues. It was, and is, still common for him to make excuses for poor performances. I think people making him out to be a genius are over stepping the mark by quite a long way.
    His decision making has always been suspect. Donnington on wet tyres ?? He had many years of crashing out of important races while under pressure. Now he's saying he wishes the old 500cc format would return with close, fairing bashing racing ? Funny..that has always been his major weakness !
    He's says he feels under appreciated etc. Well, Casey, obviously everyone is different but when you are riding at the top level for the mega $'s, you really need to work on ALL aspects of your character. It's a huge media circus and whining that nobody likes you just isn't going to cut it. Even Lorenzo goes out of his way to be as entertaining as possible. He's clearly not comfortable with it but he makes an effort.

    As I said before, he will be missed as he's a top rider but his constant excuses won't be missed by me.
    How I would love to see one final confrontation between Rossi and Stoner..both on the current spec Honda.

  • Comment number 32.

    "It has long been a mystery to many - and most of the messages I have received on Twitter over the past few hours are testament to this - that a young man could fail to enjoy the money, the adulation and the fame that have come his way due to his unparalleled ability to ride a motorcycle."

    For someone so indoctrinated in a value system which advertises the making of money and acclamation and recognition from others (ego-boosting) it may seem a bit of a mystery. For someone that realises that a fulfilling life involves contributing to society, helping others, being informed and appreciating non-materialistic aspects it is no mystery at all. "How did you spend your life, Casey? Well, I went around and around tracks 100s of times, and then I got grossly overpaid and received so much praise from the people who adore me from riding around and around and have been totally tapped inside the bread & circuses matrix" - I'm pretty sure the illusion has worn off for Casey (and at such a young age too). He isn't insecure like most sportsmen who need the pat on the back, the thumbs up, the "you're the man" speech. It looks as if Casey sees through that rubbish. Best of luck to hm.

  • Comment number 33.

    Not so sure why everyone is so shocked-I'm not Casey's biggest fan but it strikes me he never bullsh*ts and has always said he would quit while he was on top. It's a shame as he was a great rider but he's always hated the publicity side of the game-check out his merchandise?? There isn't any. He's a racer pure and simple, not motivated by the razzmatazz or the money and clearly not comfortable with the introduction of CRT machines. I'm sure most people agree MOTOGP is changing, possibly not for the better, but as Valentino said yesterday in his live broadcast it's inevitable in these hard financial times that there have to be cuts in expenditure or there will be no teams entering at all.
    Good luck to you Casey I say and thanks for the thrills you brought to MOTOGP in your short but successful career.

  • Comment number 34.

    never liked the guy always whinging and whining never his fault ,only thing i'm sorry about is that he didnt go sooner

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm in the 'not sorry to see him leave' camp. Whilst there's no denying Stoner can ring the neck of a bike and get great results, I just can't warm to him. Many of his unpopular traits - like complaining and blaming others when things don't go his way, rather than just getting on with things like the rest of the paddock - are the characteristics which have got him his nickname Stoner the Moaner. These don't appear to be borne of timidity and dislike of the media - they come across as disrespectful, arrogant and ungrateful.

    To me, things like team work and interest in the supporters count just as much towards the 'package' that is a champion as the results on the track - proved by the popularity of people like Spies and Hayden who have remained in the hearts of many despite not regularly achieving great results. Perhaps we've been spoiled with riders who ooze charisma like Rossi & Edwards who you cannot help but root for - I guess they cast a long shadow.

    That aside, I agree with Stoner's decision to leave, if his heart is no longer in it then it's right to step aside and give somebody else the opportunity. Good luck to him in whatever he does, but from a personal point of view, he won't be missed.

  • Comment number 36.

    @thefatoftheland

    The Ducati Stoner rode is an entirely different beast to the current one. Nobody knows if Stoner could get the same performance out of this years bike. Also, when the pressure was on, Casey cried off with mysterious health issues. It was, and is, still common for him to make excuses for poor performances. I think people making him out to be a genius are over stepping the mark by quite a long way.
    His decision making has always been suspect. Donnington on wet tyres ?? He had many years of crashing out of important races while under pressure. Now he's saying he wishes the old 500cc format would return with close, fairing bashing racing ? Funny..that has always been his major weakness !
    He's says he feels under appreciated etc. Well, Casey, obviously everyone is different but when you are riding at the top level for the mega $'s, you really need to work on ALL aspects of your character. It's a huge media circus and whining that nobody likes you just isn't going to cut it. Even Lorenzo goes out of his way to be as entertaining as possible. He's clearly not comfortable with it but he makes an effort.

    As I said before, he will be missed as he's a top rider but his constant excuses won't be missed by me.
    How I would love to see one final confrontation between Rossi and Stoner..both on the current spec Honda.


    Perhaps you are right. Stoner head to head on the same team..I think we'd all love to see that too..but he would destroy Rossi just like the others. Lorenzo already did it. Casey is even better than Lorenzo.

    Rossi started on the Ducati 800 where Stoner left off and was absolutely nowhere. They spent all this money on the bike to suit Rossi..and he's still nowhere. They weren't interested in doing that for Stoner. Burgess thought he could fix it easy. Wrong. Now the media agrees the bike is off the pace etc. Tosh. They're saying that because Valentino can't ride it, and no one dares to question his talent. Now who's making excuses for poor performance. What a joke.

    I guess I just don't care about the media and all that stuff. looking cool in front of the camera and having lots of fans etc. For me its purely about the racing, that's where my passion lies. It is enough for me to have seen a rider like Casey. And I rate the road racers higher than even the MotoGP guys. DJ on the mountain..God almighty :)


    Casey is a genius on a bike. Hope he takes it again this year

  • Comment number 37.

    @thefatoftheland

    You say it's all about the racing and then try and dis the greatest "racer" of all time. Now that's a joke.
    Head to head, Rossi has beaten them all. Sure his talents may have waned in these later years but there's no doubt in most people's minds that Stoner has never been on the same level as Rossi as a pure racer.
    Road racers are time trialists. The race to beat the clock. Brave and talented they may be but they don't race head to head. Maybe Casey would be better off doing that.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nice to see all the glory hunting VR fans are glad that Stoneris leaving.You all better get ready for the Lorenzo show next year as Stoner is the only one that can beat him. Stoner is an amazing talent and if he was in moto gp years earlier the Italian g.;p would never have won so many titles.Stoner might give VR a few lessons on how 2 ride a duke when he has time on his hands ha ha

  • Comment number 39.

    Smarter than you average bear, that's Casey Stoner.

    Plenty of other sports people cannot see beyond their world - it gives them a core purpose and, of course, the adulation and money. It does, however, create rather one-dimensional people.

    If people care to look, they will see that Stoner always has been a cut above his contemporaries in the breadth of his outlook. And no, doing silly victory celebrations is not an indication of a "character" for many of us. Stoner has thought through what he wants and doesn't want and is in the happy position of being able to afford to make his own decisions.

    How much more dignified is that than carrying on beyond your best, delaying the inevitable to eek out a bit more adulation and money? It is worth noting than Stoner is the only leading light in Motogp with a family. The others seem to be encumbered with hangers on instead - cant be healthy..

    As a viewer, I love watching Stoner - he is such a spectacular rider, but I admire his ability to make the best decision for himself and his family.

  • Comment number 40.

    scott27

    Not sure how you equate supporting VR with glory hunting. I personally support riders who have a good style & personality so I support VR and Marco (Who I met and can say is a top bloke). With Stoner fantastic rider but I never liked his persona so whilst I respect him hugely I'm not a fan. I also think he will be missed in the sense of close racing at the front but not his whinging when it's not going to plan.

    On a side note watch the Isle of Man TT then tell me those boys don't race. I think you're right in saying it's a specialist skill now as there hasn't been a racer since Foggy who could win on the short circuits and the roads and why I rate Ago higher than VR who did both where VR has limited himself to short circuits and a parade lap of the TT.

  • Comment number 41.

    Stoner is the man - unreal wisdom for a person so young and with such incredible talent on a bike - especially the ducati. Miss seeing the Duc on the front row. There's a story here in Dublin that he raced in Mondello when a teenager on the same 600cc bike as his fellow riders. One lap in, he had left everyone in his dust! Good on ya man!

  • Comment number 42.

    I would imagine most of the GP riders these days have it in their contracts that they do NOT go near road racing events, especially the IOM TT. Far too dangerous.

    Where this myth comes from that Stoner is a pure racer is a mystery to me. Even in the lower classes, when the going got tough, Stoner either chucked it or lost.

  • Comment number 43.

    With Stoner and Rossi so much mud flies around I am sick of reading comments and I wont contribute.

    But since I always ask you questions Matt but never praise your work, quality blog :) Really appreciate when you write these.

 

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