In one last hurrah on his home track, Casey Stoner, the 27 year old Australian MotoGP two-time and current reigning world champion, has won at home for a record 6th time in a row riding a Repsol Honda RC213V.
Casey’s dominance at Phillip Island is illustrated by his average winning time of over 5 seconds, achieved with bikes of three different capacities: 800cc, 900cc and now 1,000cc. In this race he led from lap 2 to win by over 9 seconds from a conservative Jorge Lorenzo in 2nd who could taste the riders’ championship thanks to an untimely exit by Pedrosa.
Casey beamed in his post race press conference. “It’s been a fantastic build up. It was very important for me to win a race before I retire and to do it at my home grand prix was a fairy tale. The crowd of people, the fans and everything have just been amazing … a crowd this big and this enthusiastic was really something else.”
He beats 9-time world champion Valentino Rossi who won 5 in a row from 2001 to 2005 and is the only other rider to have won 5 MotoGP races at the Island. He finished only 7th on the Ducati in this his penultimate race on the underdeveloped Italian machine before going back to Yamaha Factory Racing next season.
But it’s a bittersweet record for Casey as it also marks the last time he will ever race in MotoGP at this track. He is retiring from his stellar moto racing career in 2 weeks time after the last race of the 2012 season in Valencia.
Also a bittersweet day for Casey’s many Australian fans who achieved their own record this weekend for numbers attending the event of 122,465 in total over three days. He is probably the last Aussie MotoGP world champion they’ll have for a little while and adding a twist to the blade is the fact that Casey is retiring for personal reasons, not because he’s lost the ability to win.
And the Aussie crowd certainly got their money’s worth as rookie Arthur Sissis placed 3rd in Moto3 and veteran Ant West thwarted a last minute challenge from new world champion Marc Marquez to finish 2nd in Moto2.
Casey thanked and said goodbye to his home crowd and congratulated the world champion for 2013, Jorge Lorenzo, who rides the Factory Yamaha Racing M1.
Casey has casually mentioned his interest in the V8 Supercar saloon car series in Australia and, like his compatriot and world 500cc champion Wayne Gardener before him, may next look to investigating whether his skills will prove as formidable in the four wheeled arena.
Photos: Olivier Bochsler