Retiring Stoner might switch to V8s
Casey Stoner’s long-term future could lie in V8 Supercars after the two-time world motorcycle champion’s shock MotoGP retirement.
Australian Stoner stunned the motorsport world by announcing he will quit at the end of the MotoGP season for “family reasons”, aged just 26.
Stoner, MotoGP’s defending champion and this year’s points leader after winning two of the season’s three events, made his announcement ahead of Sunday’s French Grand Prix.
Stoner tested a V8 Supercar last December with championship benchmark Team Vodafone, recording competitive lap times and impressing the team.
He has received a glowing endorsement from three-time V8 champion Craig Lowndes, who worked with Stoner during his testing and believes he could successfully switch from two wheels to four.
“He’s an avid follower of what we do every weekend,” Lowndes said of Stoner, who is a big fan of the sport.
“The bike guys seem to cross over fairly well … he was very determined, very focused.
“He took it very seriously.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see where he ends up at the end of the year.
“He’s very talented. No doubt if he crossed over, he’d bring that talent with him.”
Australian motorcycling champions Wayne Gardner and the late Gregg Hansford switched to touring car racing with mixed success.
Like Stoner, Gardner was a former world motorcycling champion who took time to adjust to four wheels, though he finished third twice at Bathurst.
Queenslander Hansford won the Bathurst 1000 alongside Larry Perkins in 1993, but was killed while racing a Super Touring car at Phillip Island two years later.
Stoner said he had lost the passion for bike racing, which prompted his unexpected decision to quit.
“After a long period of thought and numerous discussions with my wife and family, I have decided to stop competing at the end of the season,” the Honda rider said.
“After so many years taking part in this sport that I love, and with all the sacrifices that I have had to make, I no longer have the passion to continue and I think that it is best to stop.”
Stoner, who also won the world title in 2007 with Ducati, became a father for the first time in February when his wife Adrianna gave birth to a daughter.
Despite his blistering start to the season, Stoner has been critical of a series of technical changes to the sport he claims are undermining the championship.
He has also been battling cramps in his arms that prove particularly painful under braking.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, one of Stoner’s great rivals, said he was shocked by the Australian’s decision.
“It’s bad news for the world of MotoGP,” Rossi said.
“At the end of the season, we are going to lose a great rider and a great rival, but it’s his decision.”© AAP 2013
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