At the press conference at Le Mans, where Casey Stoner made the shock announcement of his retirement, Stoner answered questions from journalists present about his decision to retire at the end of the 2012 season. You can find his original statement in this story, but below is a transcript of what Stoner told journalists when they were given a chance to question the Australian about his retirement.
Q: You said you are disappointed in things, would you mind elaborating a bit. Are you talking about the CRT, or the control tires? The things that have annoyed you a bit recently?
It’s not just annoying me. I’ve been watching this championship for a long time, and it’s very easy to see what works and what doesn’t. This championship and everything that I’ve worked towards to get here, it’s been a huge dream of mine, and then you get here, you race for a few years, and you realize a lot of things, whether it’s people having no faith in you, whether it’s people not believing in your talent, or the changes that have happened to the championship.
2009 to be honest was a big eye-opener for me. Everybody still thinks to this day says it’s a mystery illness, the fact that nobody understands that I have a lactose intolerance, that it’s really critical to me if I do have any. It’s not of the type that everyone thinks it is, you know, it just basically takes my energy, it stops me from absorbing nutrients. And so the fact that nobody has listened to me about that. There have been many, many things that have over time just taken its toll.
The way I see the championship heading, the direction I see it heading, and the fact that in 2009 I really realized what was important, and that’s family, it’s happiness, money isn’t everything, and I think I’m one of the few riders who can actually say they’ve retired when they’ve stopped enjoying it. My passion has slowly ebbed away from this championship. You yourselves, the media, have not exactly been friendly to this championship, and criticizing it many times, especially recently. And people don’t realize that everyone is bringing it down themselves, they are saying that the racing is boring, this is boring, that’s boring, and if you go back some years ago, you’ll find the same amount of races that were either close or not.
I think people just need to appreciate what they have in front of them at this time, and I think everybody in this room needs to realize what championship they have before it’s gone. I think it would be really nice to see some fantastic racing out at the front, but with only a few factory bikes out there, it’s not going to happen any time soon. There needs to be more high-quality bikes out there so that people like Randy [de Puniet] can be running where he deserves to be, and not so far behind 12th position. There’s just no way for them to get anywhere near the factory bikes.
This championship this year is separated, the first of the CRTs comes into Parc Ferme after the race, I can’t remember, definitely after qualifying, and it’s clearly separating it. This isn’t a two-standard series. This is the MotoGP championship, this is a prototype championship. People can say all they want about the past, that it started out as very standard machines and basically progressed to prototype machines, and now we’re just taking the opposite step and going backwards. It’s not starting again from the beginning, it’s going backwards.
It’s not the championship I fell in love with, it’s not the championship I always wanted to race in, and except for my competitors around me, they’re the only ones who give respect to each other, nobody else has enough respect out there for the people that do their jobs, work in the teams, work on the trucks, and put this show on every week, it’s not easy, you know. There’s many many reasons, but it’s basically me losing my passion for the racing and my enjoyment of this sport. Sure I’m going to enjoy this year, but I think if I continue, then it would only be a mistake on my behalf, it wouldn’t be correct to Honda, and my team, everybody if I didn’t give 110%.
Q: You had a test in a V8 Supercar recently. It’s closer to home and less travel, is that something that interests you?
It’s by no means any part of my decision. This has been coming for a long time, it’s not something that just happened. I have tested the V8 car, but that’s also something I’ve been trying to do for the last 3 or 4 years, to be honest, and finally it happened. So there’s no coincidence to this whatsoever. Also the birth of my little girl has absolutely nothing to do with this. It has a small part of making the decision easier, but by no means is it the reason why I made this decision.
Yes, V8 is something I’m definitely going to be interested to do in the future, whether I will be fast enough or not is another thing, and that would be, not in the near future, very immediate future. But yes, there’s many things I’d like to do with my life. To be honest, I don’t want to keep racing bikes to the point where I completely lose my passion. I don’t want finish racing and not want to ride a bike for the next 5, 10 years. I love bikes, this has been my whole life, and if I keep doing it, I’m afraid I’ll lose completely my passion for it and not want to even go near a bike for the next 10 years, and that would scare me. So, for many many reasons, but the V8 thing and things like that is nothing to do with it.
Q: Is this a definitive retirement? This is the first time I saw a young, talented rider retire so early without an injury. Don’t you think this is a waste of talent?
You must tell me. This is maybe not a waste of talent, it’s a waste of life for me if I continue doing it. I know I can go out there, even if I’m not enjoying it, I can go out there and I’ll still do the same results and give everything I can, because my competitive nature will then take over, where the passion cannot hold.
But no, to be honest, this is … difficult to explain… Maybe I am the first one, the young one with a good career ahead of them to retire so early, but at the same time, you know I’ve spoken the truth, always. In all my media commitments, even in the last race, in Portugal. I didn’t lie to anybody, the information got out, I don’t know how or by who, but I hadn’t even decided by then. So it was wrong information. I’ve only decided in this last week 100% what my decision is, so we’re not sure how it got out. The fact that I don’t lie is the same, you know, every rider here says always the same, “When I stop feeling the passion for this sport I will retire,” but I don’t think there’s many riders out there that can say that this is actually the truth. Because there’s always something holding them here, whether it’s money, or the fame, or whatever it is, there are other aspect that keep them here. I think I’ve seen other riders lose their passion for the sport, lose their fun in the sport, and still continue to race.
Q: Are you satisfied with what you achieved in your career? What do you think you will leave to this sport?
I don’t know, it’s not up to me to say what I’m going to leave to this sport, and maybe I’ll still have some involvement, if I can find the energy to maybe help some young riders, to do something.
But I’m not really sure what I leave. We’ve had a great career, we’ve had some fantastic races, and I believe that even after my first championship in 2007, already I had reached my goal. This was my dream, to become world champion. When you’re younger, to become multiple times world champion, but when you arrive closer to Grand Prix and arrive in Grand Prix, reality is a little bit more realistic, but I never stopped trying, no matter how much criticism I got for riding the Ducati, and no matter how much criticism I got for crashing, different things like this in the past, you know, this has all helped, to be honest, to arrive at the point where we are today, and helped my decision to be a little easier. I don’t believe I will be leaving anything behind, I’m very happy with the career that I’ve had this far, in such a short space, to have had the race wins that I’ve had, the battles that I’ve had, the success, and also the problems that I’ve had. So it’s been a difficult up-and-down road, but it’s been a fantastic one, so I won’t have regrets.
Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.