The greatest rider of our generation...
Casey Stoner is recognised as one of the most naturally talented riders to have competed in the MotoGP World Championship, motorcycling’s version of Formula 1, which had its inaugural season in 1949.
Casey wowed crowds with his ability to take a motorcycle just beyond the edge of control and then keep it there, lap after lap. This skill won him two MotoGP World Championships and 45 Grand Prix victories, which puts him in the all-time top ten of motorcycle GP winners.
He won his first MotoGP crown in 2007, with Italian brand Ducati, and his second in 2012, with Japanese manufacturer Honda. He also won Grand Prix races with Aprilia and KTM.
The Australian made his Grand Prix debut in 2001 at the age of 15 and retired at the end of the 2012 season when he was still very much at the top of his game.
Casey’s journey began at home, with his parents Colin and Bronwyn and elder sister Kelly. When he was just 18-months-old he loved to sit on his sister’s stationary minibike, opening and closing the throttle, getting his first feeling for a motorcycle engine. He spent the next 25 years developing his talent, through hard work, discipline and determination.
And then at the age of 26, while at the peak of his form, he stunned the sport by announcing his retirement. Casey was the first MotoGP title contender to retire at his peak and of his own volition, rather than through injury, in several decades.
Casey – born 16th October 1985 in Southport, on Australia’s Gold Coast – made his name in the hard knocks of Australian dirt track competition. The Stoner family moved home several times, looking for work and in search of the most competitive racing arenas. His father soon realised that his son had a special talent for riding motorcycles and knew that the best way to progress was to always race against the toughest opposition.
Casey started racing minibikes in junior events at the age of four, making his debut in June 1990 at Hatcher’s dirt track on the Gold Coast, where sister Kelly had already raced. He won his first races just two months later.
Over the next few years, he became pretty much unbeatable in the various classes of dirt track racing, winning hundreds of races and numerous state and Australian titles. In 1995 he won more than 200 hundred heat races and finals in just eight months. In 1996 he won 103 out of 104 heat races and finals. A few years later he won 15 state championships and four national titles in one season. None of this was easy for the family. They had little money and travelled vast distances to further Casey’s career, often driving more than 1500 kilometres to attend one race meeting.
Naturally, Casey and his parents already had their sights set on bigger things. In January 2000 they risked everything by selling up and relocating to the UK, where 14-year-old Casey was allowed to start road racing. If the family had remained in Australia they would’ve had to wait another two years before he could race on asphalt.
The Stoners had so little money when they arrived in the UK that they started out living in a very second-hand caravan.
Casey was entered in the Aprilia Superteen Championship, a low-budget series created as a first step for youngsters climbing the racing ladder. He surprised the locals by winning his first two races and soon attracted some much-needed sponsorship that allowed him to race in Spain, where he caught the eye of famed talent scout and 500cc Grand Prix winner Alberto Puig.
In 2001 Casey not only contested the Spanish and British 125cc championships but also had his first races at world level: the British GP at Donington Park and the Australian GP at Phillip Island, where he scored his first World Championship points, riding a privately entered Honda. There was no doubt that he had already done enough to deserve a full-time Grand Prix ride.
Casey’s debut GP season – aboard a doubly powerful Aprilia 250 – was fast and furious. His machine was of a lower specification than many bikes on the grid, so he had to ride over the limit to stay with the more experienced riders, which led to the occasional mishap. However, he amazed the paddock by qualifying on the second row of the grid for his very first 250cc race. And a few months later he scored his first top-five result, just three seconds off the podium, at the Czech GP.
In 2003 he stayed with Lucio Cecchinello’s team, moving to the 125cc class. By mid-season Casey had got the hang of his little Aprilia, taking his first GP podium in Germany and his first victory at the season-ending Valencia GP. He remained in the same category in 2004, enjoying his first factory contract, with Austrian manufacturer KTM, and scoring another victory and several further podiums.
In 2005 Casey returned to the 250 class, once again with Cecchinello and Aprilia. He achieved his first 250 GP win in Portugal and led a World Championship for the first time. At every race, he was faster and more mature, so there was only one place to go from there: the premier MotoGP category.
Casey stayed with Cecchinello’s LCR team for his graduation to MotoGP in 2006, which started in spectacular fashion with pole position in Qatar, the second race of the 16-round championship. That’s how long it took for Casey to prove the doubters wrong – after just a few days in the premier class he was as fast as anyone on a 340km/h, 230 horsepower MotoGP bike.
At the very next race, he climbed a MotoGP podium for the first time, taking second place in Turkey, just two-tenths of a second behind the hugely experienced Marco Melandri.
However, issues with his front tyre, which wouldn’t support his aggressive corner-entry technique, prevented Casey from continuing his excellent progress that season. A change of motorcycle manufacturer and tyre brand changed everything for 2007.
Casey was signed by renowned Italian brand Ducati, which used tyres made by Bridgestone. Few pit-lane experts predicted he would be a title contender but he won the season-opening Qatar GP and dominated the championship, taking ten wins and a further four podiums from the 17 races.
He secured the 2007 title at the Japanese GP at the age of 21 years and 342 days, making him the second-youngest rider to wear the premier-class crown. Currently, Casey is the third youngest rider to have won motorcycling’s greatest prize.
Not only was this Ducati’s first MotoGP riders title, Casey’s consistently brilliant results also helped the company win the MotoGP Constructors World Championship for the first time; further confirmation of his worth.
Casey stayed with Ducati for 2008, during which he won a further six races and ended the year as championship runner-up. A change in technical regulations for 2009, when all riders had to use the same tyres, somewhat compromised the performance of Ducati’s MotoGP bike and Casey had to work harder than ever to win races aboard the Desmosedici in 2009 and 2010.
During 2009 he also suffered from health issues, through Epstein-Barr Virus and lactose intolerance. Casey missed several races to get healthy again, which didn’t go down well with Ducati management. So when Repsol Honda approached him in the early stages of the 2010 season he quickly agreed terms to ride Honda’s RC212V MotoGP bike in 2011.
Wearing the colours of Repsol Honda was a dream come true for Casey, who had grown up watching countryman Mick Doohan dominate the 500cc World Championship racing during the 1990s aboard his Repsol Honda NSR500.
Casey and the RC212V gelled immediately. They won their first race together in Qatar and quickly took control of the championship with four victories from the first six races. Casey won a further six races that season to clinch the title at his home race at Phillip Island. He also helped Honda win the 2011 MotoGP Constructors World Championship.
By then Phillip Island had become his happiest hunting ground. Casey won six consecutive MotoGP races at the awesomely high-speed venue in Australia’s Victoria State, always receiving a rapturous ovation from the crowd.
And yet Casey was already falling out of love with MotoGP. The championship was undergoing extensive changes, including the banning of campervans from the paddock for all but premier-class riders. Casey believed this change wasn’t fair on young, up-and-coming riders.
At the same time lower-spec and therefore much slower MotoGP bikes – powered by superbike engines – were allowed onto the grid alongside the prototype MotoGP missiles. And even the prototypes were subjected to technical restrictions, aimed at narrowing the performance gap between different manufacturers.
Casey considered this to be dumbing down of motorcycle racing’s most technically challenging category because it penalised the companies that worked hardest at improving their technology and rewarded the companies with less expertise and determination to succeed.
In April 2012 Casey arrived at Le Mans for the French GP leading the World Championship. The day before practice began he announced his retirement. He had been racing for more than 20 years and was ready to go home.
Honda was so keen to retain his services that the company offered to double his salary for 2013. However, since money wasn’t Casey’s prime motivation for racing motorcycles he turned down the offer.
Nevertheless, during 2012 he continued to race as hard as ever, determined to end his glittering career with a third MotoGP crown. Four victories had him very much in the title hunt until a fall during practice for the Indianapolis GP left him with a nasty ankle injury. That forced him to miss three races, so he ended the year third overall, making an emotional and victorious farewell to Aussie fans at Phillip Island, the penultimate race of the year.
Despite incessant rumours predicting a comeback, Casey stayed true to his plan, although he didn’t stop riding MotoGP bikes altogether. He became Honda’s MotoGP test rider, using his unique insights to help the company stay ahead of the game with machine performance.
During 2013 Casey had a go at four-wheel racing, contesting Australia’s V8 Supercars series, driving a Holden Commodore. He also published his autobiography Casey Stoner: Pushing The Limits, which was acclaimed for its revelations and its honesty.
Back on bikes, he rode his final race in July 2015, with Honda, at the Suzuka Eight Hours endurance race in Japan. Unfortunately, a technical fault caused him to crash heavily, fracturing his right shoulder and left tibia. In 2016 Casey re-joined Ducati as MotoGP test rider, a role he undertook for three years.
Casey has received numerous awards and honours for his achievements in the sport of motorcycle racing.
His debut MotoGP World Championship success won him the prestigious Young Australian of the Year award in 2008. Five years later he was appointed a member of the Order of Australia for his significant services to motorcycle racing.
At the 2013 Australian GP Casey was named a MotoGP Legend and in 2015 he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Other Sport Australia Hall of Fame members include fellow MotoGP kings Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner, plus Formula 1 car World Champions Jack Brabham and Alan Jones.
Casey’s racing accomplishments
Two MotoGP World Championships
45 Grand Prix victories (2 x 125cc, 5 x 250cc, 38 x MotoGP)
89 Grand Prix podiums (10 x 125cc, 10 x 250cc, 69 x MotoGP)
43 Grand Prix pole positions (2 x 125cc, 2 x 250cc, 39 x MotoGP)
33 Grand Prix fastest laps (3 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 29 x MotoGP)
Casey, year by year
1989 First race, Hatcher’s dirt track, Gold Coast
1991 Australian junior short track champion
1992 Gold Coast Cup winner
1995 Four Australian long track titles, three Australian dirt track titles
1996 Four Australian dirt track titles, Australian long track title
1997 Five Australian long track titles
1998 Three Australian long track titles, three Australian dirt track titles
2000 British Aprilia 125 champion
2001 2nd British/Spanish 125 championships (Honda)
First GP, Britain
First GP points, Australia
2002 12th 250 world championship (Aprilia)
Best result, 5th Czech Republic
2003 8th 125 world championship (Aprilia)
First GP podium, Germany
First GP victory, Valencia
2004 5th 125 world championship (KTM)
2005 2nd 250 world championship (Aprilia)
1st Portugal, China, Malaysia, Qatar, Turkey
2006 8th MotoGP world championship (Honda)
Best result, 2nd Turkey
2007 MotoGP world champion (Ducati)
1st Qatar, Turkish, China, Catalunya, Britain, USA, Czech, San Marino, Australia, Malaysia
2008 2nd MotoGP world championship (Ducati)
1st Qatar, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Valencia
2009 4th MotoGP world championship (Ducati)
1st Qatar, Italy, Australia, Valencia
2010 4th MotoGP world championship (Ducati)
1st Aragon, Japan, Australia
2011 MotoGP world champion (Honda)
1st Qatar, France, Catalunya, Britain, USA, Czech, Indianapolis, Aragon, Australia, Valencia
2012 3rd MotoGP world championship (Honda)
1st Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, USA, Australia
casey, the person
Casey always took his racing seriously, determined to do the best for himself and for those who worked hard to support him. He was very much dedicated to his sport, but not so much to the media merry-go-round that went with it.
A home-loving family man he never found life on the road easy but was prepared to make sacrifices to achieve the successes of which he always knew he was capable.
Supported throughout his earlier years by his parents he found life in the world championship much more comfortable when girlfriend Adriana joined him in Europe. The pair were married in January 2007.
Their first child – Alessandra Maria – was born in February 2012 and their second – Caleya Maria – arrived in October 2017. The family enjoys living the quiet life at their home on Australia’s Gold Coast.
In recent years Casey has struggled with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which has had a serious impact on his life. CFS is a debilitating long-term illness that causes greatly diminished physical and mental energy. In 2020 Casey became an Ambassador for Emerge Australia, which seeks to raise funds and awareness for this much misunderstood medical condition.