Speculation has long linked the double MotoGP world champion with a move to the Australian V8 Supercar series but it was only today that Stoner confirmed his plans for 2013 with the Aussie tweeting:
“Very happy to have a chance to race with @redbullracingAU in the Dunlop Series this year. Looking forward getting on track at Clipsal!”
The move comes as little surprise and will see Stoner sign a one year contract with the Triple 888 run squad. He will race in the Dunlop development series in 2013 but has said that he would move into the top tier series for the endurance races if a team were to table an offer for him.
While Stoner joked in a report from the Australian Daily Telegraph that “I doubt anyone would want me at Bathurst, but I’m not ruling it out.” Given his profile and fame it is highly unlikely that he receives no offers to race in Australia’s biggest race so we will most likely she in race in the top tier V8’s this year.
From the moment Casey made his retirement announcement, at Le Mans in May, his future has been a source of constant speculation with racing in the Supercars always a likely option. His various tests of the machinery and appearances at races have made headlines in Australia as has his interactions with his future rivals…
After the Abu Dhabi round last season Stoner tweeted that Ford’s Mark Winterbottom racing “amateur” for overtaking a rival on the grass. Winterbottom immediately replied saying “Seriously dude? You need to attend a drivers briefing to work out our rules for next season.”
Stoner’s combative nature won him a legion of fans in MotoGP but also made him a polarising figure with many fans resenting his forthright views and his complaints about the series. It’s highly unlikely that Casey will shy away from making similar complaints in his car racing career but he would be well advised to remember that while the V8 Supercars series are welcoming him with open arms they will not look to change their winning formula to suit Casey’s tastes.
However given that Stoner cited a lack of respect from MotoGP’s organisers as the key reason for walking away from a glittering motorcycling career it is likely that he will be much more comfortable racing in Australia where it is clear that he will be more valued by the V8 series.
Throughout his final season in MotoGP Casey spent a lot of time trying to explain his reasons for walking away from a reputed €12 million contract with HRC. While many jumped to the conclusion that his primary motive was to spend time with family Casey consistently explained that decisions made by Dorna were his primary concern.
These changes ranged from the series organiser’s definition of “clean racing” to their decision not to allow Moto2 and Moto3 riders to park their motor homes within the paddock. Stoner simply fell out of love with MotoGP and his decision to leave the sport while surprising to many was less shocking from those that had heard Casey voice his concerns.
In his interview with the Telegraph he went into detail on his though process for leaving MotoGP:
“Injuries weren’t any part of why or retired, or that I wanted to do new things,” Stoner said. “Family wasn’t a part of it either. I just fell out of love with the sport. We had a lack of respect from a lot of people around the sport and I didn’t like the direction it was taking.
“We lost a rider a couple of years ago (Marco Simoncelli) and with in a month it was like it never happened. They want to see biff and barge and they don’t realise our lives are on the line. We became puppets in that world and it had nothing to do with racing.”
His progress in Australia will be of great interest to many within the MotoGP paddock given how highly respected the double world champion was and while many would hope to see Casey back on two wheels the main hope is that he finds a race series where he is comfortable and able to race happily. It had been a long time since he had found that in motorcycle racing but hopefully the V8 paddock can offer him what he needs.