In the first of a series of blogs by MotoGP stars, two-time World Champion Casey Stoner tells BT Sport he doesn’t regret leaving the sport and talks about the future.
As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of interviews and writing publicly but when BT Sport approached me and asked me about doing a few blogs I thought it would be a good way to speak to the fans and share my past year – for those who want to listen!
I’ve always had a strange relationship with the British fans – it seems very black and white. Some support me wholeheartedly and some see me as a whingeing Aussie! It’s strange when I think about it because some of my best friends are "Poms!"
After retiring from MotoGP – which I know many people still can’t understand – I really needed some time off. I don’t regret my decision, not even for a second.
Of course I miss some of the people and my friends from the paddock – after so many years they become your family, but I wasn’t enjoying my racing. Even though we had a great bike and team, there was something missing. I took the decision with my family to retire and I was pretty vocal about my interest in racing in the V8 Supercar Championship.
If I’m honest, I didn’t expect things to progress so quickly. I imagined a few tests in 2013 and then see how I was getting on towards the end of the year. However, before I knew it things had accelerated and there was an option for me to take part in the Dunlop Series – feeder to the V8’s.
Stoner driving in the Dunlop Series in Bathurst, Australia
I decided "what the heck" and went for it. With hindsight it was too much too soon – I should have taken the whole of 2013 off to re-evaluate things and take my time. I enjoyed some of the racing but many factors existed that were the contributing reasons to my leaving MotoGP. The PR commitments were intense and many more than I had planned for my year off!
Just to be clear, it’s not that I don’t enjoy or appreciate my fans – I really do – but what many people don’t appreciate is that I’m an incredibly private person. My circle of friends and the people I trust is very limited, and I treasure them, but when I have to give interview after interview, especially with people who write negatively about me, it eats away at my soul.
It’s a hard thing to explain and I don’t expect everyone to understand, but please know I appreciate all the true fans and this is something I was really exposed to when releasing my book.
I did many book signings and I was genuinely moved by the people who came along and had positive things to say. This is also the same for the comments and messages I continue to receive on my Facebook page and Twitter.
I realised that unlike MotoGP – where the fans are there for all the riders and come to signing sessions but may not necessarily like you – the fans coming for the book signing were my fans, people who were interested in my story and what I had to say, and as I said, it really touched me. So thank you to all of you who bought a book and for all the comments.
For the first time ever, we weren't jumping on a plane every week. It was bliss"
So after we finished with the V8’s there was an option for 2014, but together with my wife Adriana, we decided that we should take some time to take a step back and see where we were. We had just moved back to Australia and were enjoying time with our daughter Ally.
Being a father has changed me and I know many people say it, but it is an incredible journey. We had a nice Christmas and New Year and spent some time away with friends and for the first time ever, we weren’t jumping on a plane every week. It was bliss!
The beginning of this year has continued to be pretty relaxed, I’ve found some new hobbies as well as continuing my fishing. In April I flew to America to spend some time with my fishing buddy Carl who is competing to get into the ‘Elites’ in the U.S… after a week with him I travelled down to Houston and went to my first Supercross Event. I loved it! I know quite a few people in that paddock but I met up with Ryan Villopoto and we hit it off immediately.
We had many things in common - our paths in our lives and also our racing careers - and I ended up travelling with him to the final races of the season and was with him in New Jersey when he clinched his fourth title. I’m really pleased to have been there and been able to share that time with him.
In between those races I got a chance to visit MotoGP in Austin, but arrived at the end of the race! To be honest I mainly wanted to see some of my friends and my old team and of course Honda vice-president Shuhei Nakamoto and team boss Livio Suppo. It was nice to catch up with them all and also the riders – Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo etc. Ben Spies was also there.
If Honda need me, I would like to do a test for them"
In fact, afterwards I went back to Dallas with my friend Rhys Edwards from Honda and we stayed with Ben for a few days, I was pretty impressed with Texas! As I was having such a good time, Easter was approaching and with Ryan inviting me to come to the final races, I decided to surprise Adriana and fly her and Ally out to meet with me, instead of going home.
We spent Easter in California with Rhys and his fiancée Katelyn and then continued our adventure to the final Supercross races before returning home at the beginning of May. It was a great trip, I really love America and I hope to get back there soon.
In terms of MotoGP, I haven’t really watched that much to be totally honest. I’ve seen bits here and there and Marc Marquez is obviously doing a very good job at Honda. Lots of people have asked if I’m going to be doing any testing, but I decided not to do anything this year, to have a complete break.
I told Nakamoto san and Livio that I would like to do a test for them – if they need me to – out of goodwill, as last year many of my contracted test days were a wash out with bad weather, so I felt guilty for being paid not to ride. So we’ll see if that comes off.
If not, I plan to have a relaxing winter here in Australia. I spend a bit of time with some of the V8 boys when they’re not at races and in general I’m just enjoying being at home with Ally and Adri. We have a few trips planned for the end of the year and pretty soon we’ll have to start thinking about the future and what we want to do. But for now, I’m happy to relax and not live out of a suitcase for the first time since I can remember.
Thanks for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it.