Double World Champion Casey Stoner used todays Le Mans press conference to announce his retirement plans, while Valentino Rossi promises fans another two years.
Current reigning World Champion Casey Stoner announced in the Le Mans press conference that he will retire from the sport at the end of the 2012 season as he no longer feels a strong passion for the sport. The announcement was a shock in its timing, it was only at the last grand prix in Estoril that he was forced to deny his retirement plans as rumours were already bouncing around the paddock, but not in its content as he has long remonstrated that he has no interest in riding a CRT bike, which are to be introduced across the board from next season, he has also spoken out against most recent rule changes, many of which have been brought in as austerity measures.
“After so many years of doing this 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 at this point, 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.
“There are a lot of things that have disappointed me, and also a lot of things I have loved about this sport, but unfortunately the balance has gone in the wrong direction. And so, basically, we won’t be continuing any more. It would be nice if I could say I would stay one more year, but then where does it stop? So we decided to finish everything as we are now.”
The Australian also added that family factors had been an influence in his decision, he has often used his Repsol blog since becoming a father to mention how he has been the last to arrive and first to leave testing and now race weekends since becoming a father earlier in the year, Estoril was also the first race where he had no family present as Adriana is still home with the baby and his mother and often present father Colin were also not in attendance.
Both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo used their press conferences to give immediate reaction to what they had just heard, both being somewhat surprised at his decision and sad for the sport as Stoner is a front-runner who they have both battled against in the past.
Yamaha’s Lorenzo, currently second to Stoner by one point in this years championship was among many who, despite the rumours, thought Stoner would race for at least one more season:
“It’s a surprise for me, for everyone. I didn’t expect it. I heard the rumours and I thought there was a possibility, but I thought he would continue next year. Now he has told us, it’s not good news for MotoGP I think, but his decision is to live quietly with his family and we must respect his decision.”, he told the press conference for motogp.com.
Ducati rider Rossi concurred, and used his time in front of the microphone to renew his commitment to race for two more years after rumours of his own retirement being imminent:
“Yes, it’s a big surprise. I think it’s bad news for all the MotoGP world because at the end of the season maybe we’re losing one of the great riders and a great rival. Is negative, but it’s his own decision. For me it’s very difficult to understand where my retirement news started from, as I never spoke about my retirement. I want to race in MotoGP for the next two years for sure.”
Rossi returns to Le Mans with hopes of a strong performance as last season he managed to make the podium when he finished third, heavy rain is forecast for Sunday,which may well help him in his quest for a place on the rostrum
Stoner fan or otherwise,interest comes as his departure opens up a seat at Honda which will surely shake up the contract season, with all riders out of contract and up for negotation.
The upcoming Marc Marquez should be immediately out of the equation due to the rookie rule.Yamaha will have to dig deep into their pockets to ensure they keep Jorge Lorenzo, while it gives Rossi fans a hope of a dream move back to Honda for a final title shot.Ben Spies has already had to fend off rumours surrounding his position at Yamaha after a run of poor form, while the current Tech3 situation dictates that either Cal Crutchlow or Andrea Dovizioso will go at the end of season to make way for the incoming Bradey Smith.