Casey Stoner

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Casey Stoner (b. 16 October, 1985) is a motorcycle racer originally from Kurri Kurri in New South Wales, Australia.

Stoner's family moved him to England at a young age to further his racing career outside of Australia. He contested the national 125cc GP championships in Britain and Spain before moving full time to the 250cc GP World Championships in 2002.

His season on an Aprilia under the guidance of Lucio Ceccinello was turbulent, with no podium places from 15 race starts, and for 2003 he moved to the 125cc GP category. Here, working again with Ceccinello and Aprilia, he met with considerable success, scoring his first world championship win and three second places, finishing 8th overall at the season's end.

In 2004 Stoner joined the Red Bull KTM factory team in 125ccs, and continued to improve, with another world championship win, two second places, three thirds, and a final championship position of fifth.

In 2005 he rejoined the 250cc world championship class, racing once again for Lucio Ceccinello on an Aprilia. With his factory Aprilia, Stoner emerged toward the season's end as a serious threat to championship leader Dani Pedrosa; a threat that only dissipated with a crash at Stoner's home Grand Prix of Phillip Island, allowing Pedrosa to establish an insurmountable points lead. Stoner went on claim a solid second place in the overall championship standings, with an impressive five race victories for the season.

With the seemingly invincible Valentino Rossi dominating MotoGP, it became clear towards the end of 2005 that many veteran MotoGP riders would be rotated out of the category in an attempt to challenge Rossi's dominance with fresh talent. Among the beneficiaries of this push were the top 250cc GP performers of Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.

Stoner was rumoured to be considering a position with Yamaha [1], but eventually settled on an alliance once more with team manager Lucio Ceccinello on a Honda RC211V, on a one-bike team new to the series.

2006 Season

Both Stoner and Pedrosa surprised many with their 2006 pre-season performance. However, Stoner was forced to miss much of the latter half of the pre-season testing when an old dirt bike shoulder injury flared up. However, after surgery he was cleared for a 2006 season start at Jerez, Spain.

Jerez - Spain. This race confirmed the promise of the new generation of MotoGP riders, with Pedrosa stalking eventual race winner Loris Capirossi all the way to the line for second place. Stoner finished a promising sixth, well ahead of many seasoned veterans and with little experience on a MotoGP machine. The media starts to nake notice of the wiz kid from Kurri Kurri

Losail International Circuit - Qatar. Stoner topped every qualifying and practice session bar one (which was headed by a Kenny Roberts Jr, obviously enjoying his RC211V engine for 2006). His pole position for this race made him the youngest pole setter in the premier class since Freddie Spencer in 1982. Stoner led during the first half of the race, eventually succumbing to rear tyre wear and physical fatigue brought on by flu, resulting in a final placing of fifth. His exceptional qualifying performance and pace during the race reiterated his race winning potential.

Istanbul Park - Turkey. Stoner qualified seventh behind countryman Chris Vermeulen who took his maiden pole in a sodden qualifying session. The race however was conducted in dry conditions, and soon developed into a close fight between Hayden, Pedrosa, Stoner and Melandri. As the race drew to a conclusion, Hayden had started to fade and the race developed into a close fight between the remaining three Hondas. Stoner took the lead for the final lap, closely pursued by Melandri, but it was Pedrosa who surprised with a front end tuck at the end of the straight ending his chances of a podium. Melandri then stayed with Stoner, with the latter unable to resist Melandri's strength under brakes at the end of the back straight, allowing Melandri through to take the race win. Stoner still walked away with his maiden MotoGP podium from just three race starts, while Hayden bagged a lucky third position to lead the championship points.

Shanghai International Circuit - China. Stoner qualified seventh once again, in a qualifying session marred by a flurry of wet weather. During the race he struggled to move up and chase the front group, but eventually tagged along with a charging Valentino Rossi as he sliced his way through the pack. Stoner was unable to keep up with Rossi's blistering pace; but perhaps both riders were pushing their machines past the limit, as Rossi retired after a front tyre failure, and Stoner ran off the track to rejoin in tenth. Amazingly, Stoner fought back from this position to finish in fifth, taking some important championship points. Meanwhile his old 250cc rival, Dani Pedrosa, added to his Saturday pole position a strong Sunday race victory.

Le Mans - France. Stoner qualified eleventh on the grid, but struggled in the early stages of the race after moving up to eighth place. However, as the fuel load lightened and the bike became more comfortable, he was able to lap considerably faster, eventually moving up behind Hayden for fifth place. After a lengthy battle, Stoner eventually took Hayden with seven laps remaining to secure fourth place, finishing in front of the "Kentucky Kid" by 0.21 seconds.

Mugello - Italy. Arguably the highlight of the MotoGP calendar, the Grand Prix of Italy saw Stoner qualify in ninth place. Despite the third row start, he made a (now fairly typical) strong start and slotted in with the leading group. An incredible group of six riders circulated at the very front of the race initially, trading places and swapping paint with amazing frequency. Unfortunately, Stoner suffered a massive highside while in third place and pushing to stay with Gibernau and Rossi. He walked away unscathed - incredibly - but suffered his first DNF of the season.

Catalunya - Spain. Stoner qualified in eighth, but made a fantastic start to take the lead into the first corner. Unfortunately, the race was red flagged after Gibernau's brake lever was engaged following contact with Capirossi. The cartwheeling Ducati skittled several other riders, who in turn skittled more. Gibernau, Capirossi, and Melandri were unable to join the restart. Stoner made a second fantastic start for the restarted race, but was eventually passed by Rossi. In pursuing Rossi, Stoner suffered a front end tuck which ended his race in the gravel trap, making it two DNFs in a row for the Australian. His 250cc rival Dani Pedrosa was also a non-finisher.

Assen - Netherlands. A disappointing qualifying session saw Stoner in twelfth spot on the grid. However, he soon worked his way through the middle of the pack, eventually settling into a groove with Dani Pedrosa and Kenny Roberts Jr. Stoner was eventually pipped at the post by Pedrosa, by just three hundredths of a second. But what seemed like a fifth place for Stoner was actually transformed into a fourth, with Pedrosa elevated to the podium, thanks to an incredible last corner highside from Colin Edwards. The American rider had diced with his countryman Nicky Hayden, only to cut onto the astroturf and highside himself within sight of the finish line.

Donington - Britain. Stoner qualified on the third row of the grid in eighth place, in a tightly packed field that saw a spread of less than a second between 2nd and 12th place. The exception being Dani Pedrosa on pole, who was an extraordinary 4/10ths of a second faster than everyone else. The race for the top step of the podium proved to be a one man show, with Pedrosa making a good start and working his way to the front. He promptly reeled off the fastest lap of the race no less than five times, and finished first with a very healthy lead. Casey Stoner meanwhile battled for the podium with Roberts Jr, Melandri and Rossi. Melandri and Rossi found good pace late in the race, leaving Stoner to come in for fourth place behind Melandri in third and Rossi in second.

Sachsenring - Germany. After qualifying in eighth place, Stoner looked as if he could quite happily run with the leaders during the race. However, a heavy crash during morning warm up saw Stoner head to the hospital for precautionary checks. After being cleared by the hospital, the Chief Medical Officer of the Sachsenring circuit ruled that Stoner was unfit to race. The decision was met with some argument from Stoner's team, but the decision of the CMO was final and had to be respected. It was particularly disappointing for Stoner, as the racers who eventually contested the lead - Melandri, Rossi, Hayden and Pedrosa - were all riders Stoner had been comfortable battling with in the past.

Laguna Seca - United States. Qualifying saw a good performance from Stoner, but the incredibly hot conditions - a ground temperature of 58 degrees Celsius - saw things mixed around, with compatriot Chris Vermeulen taking his first dry pole. Stoner was eventually bumped down to seventh to head up the third row. The race itself proved once again that Stoner can run at the front, when he battled with Pedrosa and Kenny Roberts Jr for third position. Stoner pushed a little too hard on lap 18, and lost the front around a left hander, ending his race and chances for a good finish. His rival Dani Pedrosa scored an impressive second place behind Nicky Hayden, and is now within shooting distance of Nicky's points lead in the world championship. Stoner's run of DNFs cost him any chance of staying in championship contention, and he is now 103 points adrift of Hayden. Speculation has arisen at this point that Stoner may be drafted into the Yamaha fold next year. Colin Edwards continues to disappoint compared to his team mate Rossi, which may create an opening. Yamaha as a whole has not invested resources in any new talent comparable to a Pedrosa, Vermeulen, or Stoner - and Stoner being part of a non-factory satellite team means he would be far more "poachable" than other 2006 rookies that have landed factory rides.

Brno - Czech Republic. Returning from the mid-season break, Stoner only managed to make 12th place on the grid at the Brno circuit. It appears reasonable to suggest that Stoner had concentrated on refining his race pace over the weekend, since after the lights went out he rocketed to near the front of the pack from fourth row on the grid. His race settled into a battle with Roberts Jr, Melandri, and Hayden. Eventually it would be Stoner who finished in sixth place, only about 0.8 seconds behind Roberts and Melandri, and in sixth place overall for the championship standings. The star of this race was undoubtably Loris Capirossi, whose Ducati stuck to asphalt like super glue. A combination of excellent Bridgestones, bike setup, and traction control (it audibly spluttered through the turns before picking up at the exits and rocketing off with barely a slide) had him finish almost five seconds in front of Valentino Rossi.

Sepang - Malaysia. After a torrential downpour on the Saturday, qualifying had to be cancelled and a grid was formed based on the free practice times on Friday. This controversial decision left Stoner in tenth place on the grid. Stoner made a typically strong start and ended the first lap in sixth place, and after ten laps had managed to grasp fifth. Meanwhile at the front, Capirossi and Rossi were in a league of their own, and dominated the pace. Stoner faded back to finish in eigth, while Rossi clinched an important victory over Capirossi - and championship leader Nicky Hayden.

Phillip Island - Australia. For most riders, a "home" Grand Prix is not only in front of their home crowd, but also a track on which they have turned out many laps during their formative years. Phillip Island is not this track for Casey Stoner, as he left Australia before he even started road racing, so someone like Dani Pedrosa has probably done just as many laps there as he has. Stoner qualified in eighth place, 0.949 seconds off pole position. Phillip Island is fickle circuit when it comes to weather, but the decision to move this year's race back a month into colder and damper September would soon prove interesting for the MotoGP race. On the warm up lap a wet race was declared, and the new rule allowing riders to enter the pits and change onto wet weather bikes was enacted. On lap 9, the rain started coming down more heavily, and the riders started entering the pits. Several near misses occurred as riders scrambled to change bikes and re-enter the race. Early race leader Shinya Nikano suffered the most, while Nicky Hayden turned around a disasterous start to re-enter the race in a more healthy ninth place. Stoner clung on in fifth. It was to be Marco Melandri's day, however, as he eventually smoked his way across the finish line in first. Australia's Chris Vermeulen took second, while Rossi snatched a cheeky third place from Sete Gibernau. Stoner finished a close sixth behind Hayden in fifth.

Motegi - Japan. Stoner qualified in eleventh place, 1.123 seconds behind pole sitter Loris Capirossi. However, Stoner made yet another blitzkrieg start to settle into fourth place by the end of lap two. Stoner clung on, but began to slip and by lap eight was back in fifth. On lap thirteen, Stoner crashed of eighth place. Capirossi went on to take a comprehensive flag-to-flag victory, chased by Valentino Rossi and Marco Melandri, making it an all Italian podium.

External Links

Casey Stoner's personal website