The Australian is only 26 years of age and is riding at the height of his ability but he has grown disconsolate with the direction that the sport has taken in recent years and has lost his passion for series.
Speaking on the Thursday press conference at the French Grand Prix Stoner made his announcement and said, “After so many years of doing this sport which I love, and which myself and my family made so many sacrifices for, 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.”
The news is a massive blow to MotoGP with the reigning world champion arguably the most exciting racer to watch. Having claimed two world titles, and being the favourite to claim this year’s crown, Stoner has achieved everything that any rider could wish for. If he has lost the passion for the day to day grind of travelling and riding there is little reason to continue.
It has been interesting to see the reaction of many within the paddock to the news. There have been many who have scoffed at the idea of the Australian retiring. Some have even gone so far as to say that he is just looking for attention like a petulant child being but when you dive deeper it is clear just how sincere Casey is about his intention.
While at first glance it is easy to say that Stoner is retiring too early it is easy to forget that he left Australia 13 years ago to race in Europe and has spent ten years racing at the world championship level. It obviously puts a great strain on anyone and with a young child it is clear that Stoner has made the decision with his family strongly on his mind.
Speaking over the weekend he continued by saying that only the racing gives him excitement now and it is too small a part of the weekend for it to be worthwhile to stay on for another season. At the Spanish Grand Prix it was clear that Stoner was in more reflective mood than in the past and with the benefit of hindsight it is clear that he was already viewing the 2012 season as a swansong.
With the inherit dangers of racing motorcycles Stoner made the right decision for him and it was arguably one of the bravest decisions any rider can make. Honda made clear their desire to keep him for another two years by offering to double his wages, rumoured to currently be somewhere in the region of $10 million per year, but Stoner stuck to his guns.
Leaving that sort of money on the table shows just how steadfast he is in his belief that this portion of his life is coming to a close and the next challenge is to be met.
It is hard to believe that he will walk away from racing entirely so a move into the Australian V8 Supercar series might be an interesting prospect. Stoner tested a Holden last year at Philip Island and was rumoured to be on the pace from the outset.
Being able to live at home and race without the need to extensive travel, the V8’s have just two races outside Australia, would clearly be an appealing way of letting his competitive juices flow.
The only certainty from last weekend was that MotoGP will be weaker for the loss of Stoner but riders have always come and gone and the sport remained.
The recent changes, such as the introduction of production based bikes on the grid, have been derided by the likes of Stoner but Dorna, the commercial rights holder, released a statement on Saturday confirming that they have no intention of changing the direction of the premier class of racing.
The “dumbing down” of MotoGP began with the introduction of control tyres in 2009 and shows no signs of abating. It is highly questionable whether these decisions are in the best interest of the sport but with Dorna interested in increasing the TV viewing figures a bigger grid clearly plays a role in showcasing MotoGP as a successful sport.
The series has changed immensely since Stoner made his premier class debut in 2006 and it can certainly be argued that it hasn’t changed for the better.