Is it all over for Casey Stoner?
Casey Stoner wins his fourth consecutive Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island - Photo by Damian Visentini / SMP Images
In the space of a week, Casey Stoner’s title defence has dropped from ‘likely’ to ‘hanging by a thread’.
The Australian, who is retiring from MotoGP at the end of the season, finished a distant eighth at Mugello, following his disastrous “boom or bust” final corner crash while in second at Sachsenring the previous weekend.
He now sits third in the standings, trailing 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo by 38 points, while Stoner’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa now shapes as the Spaniard’s main title contender.
Since announcing his departure ahead of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, Stoner has scored just one victory and two podiums from six races. At the time of the announcement, he led the standings.
His victory at Assen came much easier than expected, as a helpless Lorenzo was eliminated by Alvaro Bautista at the first corner.
While much has been made of the chatter issues plaguing the Repsol Honda bike, as well as the severe arm-pump which cost him victory at the season opener at Qatar, the question now has to be asked: has the 26-year-old has lost all motivation?
He is a markedly different man from the one who dominated last year’s championship, form which he carried across to the first three races of this season. From the outside, he hasn’t been the same rider since his announcement.
Irrespective of where he finishes in his final season, nobody can take away his two titles, the first of which came on a Ducati bike which the greatest rider of all time, Valentino Rossi, is yet to tame.
Instead, we should applaud Stoner for having the guts to pull the pin now, rather than racing on having lost motivation many years before, like so many others before him have done, only to see their reputations diminished in the process.
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