When the Spanish publication Solo Moto announced Casey Stoner, just 26 years old, might retire at the end of the 2012 Moto GP championship series, Stoner was quick to discount the rumor, but did not deny it (even though several other Internet publications quickly reported his statement as a denial, it was clearly a non-denial). In the pre-race press conference for the Le Mans round this weekend, Stoner confirmed that he will in fact leave Moto GP at the end of this season, reading the following statement to the assembled media, while sitting next to his top competitors including Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow:
“Basically, this has come after a long time of thinking, a lot of time talking with my family and my wife. This has been coming for a couple of years now, but at the end of this 2012 season, I will be not racing in the 2013 championship. I will be finishing my career at the end of this season in MotoGP and go forward with something different with my life.”
“After so many years of doing the sport which I love, and which myself and my family made so many sacrifices for, after so many years of trying to get to where we have gotten to and this point. This sport has changed a lot, and it’s changed to the point that I’m not enjoying it, I don’t have the passion for it. So at this time, it’s better if I retire now. There’s a lot of things that have disappointed me and also a lot of things that I have loved about this sport, but unfortunately, the balance has gone in the wrong direction, and so basically I won’t be continuing any more. It would be nice if I could say that I will stay for just one more year, but then when does it stop? So we decided to finish everything as we are now.”
We called Stoner the “alien among aliens”, and believe his retirement will mark the end of an amazing, if relatively short, career. Only two MotoGP championships (thus far), but many wins on the notoriously difficult-to-ride Ducati. Stoner’s final race on the Ducati included a pole position and a podium finish, a contrast with the struggles of his successor Valentino Rossi that will likely never be forgotten.