MotoGP legend Mick Doohan has cast doubt over whether his compatriot Casey Stoner will press ahead with plans to retire at the end of this season
Stoner sent shockwaves through the motor racing world on Thursday when he announced that this season with Honda would be the reigning World Champion’s last in MotoGP.
The 26-year-old cited the changing face of the sport and criticism levelled at him as his reasons, saying he has lost his “love” for MotoGP and wants out before he loses his passion for bikes entirely.
However, Doohan, a five-time 500cc World Champion, reckons Stoner could yet be persuaded to stay on.
“It’ll be interesting to see if he does actually retire,” Doohan told the Sydney Herald newspaper.
“I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t get an offer from Honda or another team later in the year that he can’t refuse to stay in the sport.
“I know Honda were counting on Casey to be the guy to keep them going for a few years… I don’t think the bidding is over yet to keep him in the sport.
“I think he’s just had enough of the sport at the moment. Hopefully, he’ll just get through this period and we’ll hear an announcement that he’s not going to retire.”
Doohan added that whether Stoner stays or goes, he is likely to do so with a third World title to his name as the current Championship leader is “the man” at the moment.
“Casey is, without a doubt, in the top five guys there has ever been,” said Doohan, who mentored Stoner as a youngster. “Right at the moment, he is the man.
“He is pushing the bike beyond what anybody else can do with it. I think statistics speak for themselves and he’s won 30-plus grand prixs and he is on his way to a third World title which puts him in the (Wayne) Rainey, Kenny Roberts category.
“His career has been magnificent and you couldn’t ask for more. If he continues the way he is going, he’ll have a third Championship.”