With a solid ride to third position in last night’s Valencia Grand Prix, the final round of the 2012 MotoGP championship, two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner hung up his riding gloves. Here’s a quick look back at what he achieved.
Hailing from Kurri Kurri in New South Wales, Stoner began his career on dirt tracks. At the age of 14 he moved with his parents to England where he could legally take up road racing – in Australia you have to be at least 16 years old.
For the first few years he competed in the national championships of Britain and Spain on small 125cc bikes where he picked up the British Aprilia Championship in 2000. A move to the big league wasn’t far away and in 2002 he made the move to the mid-class world championship, the 250cc class with Lucio Cecchinello’s team.
It was a bit to early for the young Aussie and the score sheet didn’t read anything amazing, so for 2003 he dropped back to the 125cc category and gained his first win on the world circuit. This gave him more confidence and strong results followed with a move to the factory Red Bull KTM team in 2004. There he won again and finished fifth overall
It was back to 250cc in 2005, again for Cecchinello’s team on a factory Aprillia. He made good for the false start in 2002 though, scoring five wins and mounting a challenge for the championship which was eventually won by soon-to-be close rival in MotoGP, Dani Pedrosa. Ironically it would be the last time Pedrosa really got one over Stoner.
He made the big move to MotoGP in 2006 with Cecchinello and a Honda bike and looked good from the start, scoring pole position in just his second Grands Prix. But the season was marred by accidents and close finishes and Stoner could do no better than a second place at the Turkish Grand Prix. Eighth overall in the championship was a solid result, however.
His breakthrough came in 2007 when he joined the works Ducati team on its 800cc bike alongside veteran Loris Capirossi. Former 250cc rival Dani Pedrosa mounted a bid for the title but with six poles and 10 race wins, nothing could stop Stoner from taking the first of two top-tier world titles.
The rest of Stoner’s Ducati career wasn’t as successful. While he won more races and finished second to Valentino Rossi in 2008, the Ducati was becoming harder to ride at the maximum and Stoner’s win rate began to drop off.
For 2011 he would return to Honda, racing for the factory team alongsidei Pedrosa. With the Honda being a much easier bike to handle, Stoner’s confidence rose and 10 wins plus a second MotoGP title was the result. Stoner dominated the season and was in good-stead for 2012.
It didn’t quite work out that way though. A strong start with wins at Jerez and Estoril gave way to an up and down season until the race at Indianapolis where a crash saw him tear ligaments in his ankle. Although he would race on he elected to have surgery after the race and was out until the Japanese Grand Prix in October. He also announced his retirement, having lost motivation and love for the sport. This didn’t stop Stoner from taking out his last race win, the Australian GP, a race he won six time in a row.
So what next for Stoner? V8 Supercars has been tipped and Stoner didn’t rubbish a return to MotoGP at some stage if it interested him. But we would love to see him tackle the Mountain some day soon. Thanks for the crazy bike riding Casey Stoner.