Interview with Casey, October 2018
The name Casey Stoner needs no introduction. In recent years, the two-time Australian World Champion has chosen to be more Casey and less Stoner, to build the professional dimension that has allowed him to reconcile private life, sustainable rhythms and the commitments of motorcycle racing. It’s a balance that you notice straight away upon meeting him. Casey is exactly as he appears: a genuine and kind individual, mature beyond his years, who puts respect and fairness before everything else, even if in the big world of MotoGP his reserved nature and his choices have often seemed unconventional. We had a long informal chat with him about the most personal aspects of his long-term relationship with motorcycles and his exciting return to Ducati. Here’s what he told us.
Your family encouraged and supported you a lot; your father was always by your side throughout your career. What was the most important thing that you learned during those years?
Well, since I started out so young, obviously it was my parents who first put me on a bike, with a strong desire to see me do well. This taught me that you don’t get anywhere in life without having someone on your side: a parent, a good friend or a sponsor. Your shared passion brings you together and that helps you to reach your goals in life.
You raced and competed on dirt tracks until you were fourteen years old, is that right? Did this influence your racing style, above all when you moved up to MotoGP level?
In Australia, you can only race on dirt track or motocross until fourteen years of age. There’s no minimoto or anything like that, like in Europe. However, I learned a lot riding off-road. Then, when I started road racing, it took me quite a number of years to gain the same confidence as the European riders. But when I graduated to the more powerful categories, it became easier for me because I could fix the problems of front end traction by using the power of the rear.
Did you have one particular hero, a racer who really inspired you?
Mick Doohan has always been my role model, since I was very young. Even before he was World Champion and before the accident that wrecked his leg. The fact that he came back and won races and dominated for a long time reconfirmed to me that he was the greatest racer ever: he was the type of person I wanted to emulate. We even raced together. It was such a privilege to get to know him!
Casey, your father was a racer, and your older sister also raced motorcycles when she was young. Is your passion for motorcycles something you inherited from your family?
Yeah, kind of. My father used to prepare bikes and race, but not at a professional level. And my sister used to race when she was very young, but then she quit. Then, it was my “turn” to represent the family in racing. So for me, that’s where the passion comes from.
You began riding when you were only three years old, on your sister’s motorbike, is that correct? What is your favourite memory from that period?
Well, I was very small. But looking at photographs from that period you can see that I enjoyed it more than anything else. I wanted to ride at all hours of the day. The only restriction was how much fuel was in the tank! By the time I was old enough to have my own memories, I was already very competitive, and I did everything I could to become better. But most of the best memories I have are linked to just enjoying bikes with my friends and family. For example, just having fun all afternoon riding on a small track.
You probably have more opportunities now to go riding for pure enjoyment. What kind of motorcyclist are you in your free time?
I don’t feel the need to go fast, there’s always the track for that. I just ride around, or I go offroad. I love discovering new trails. I can finally enjoy riding off-road like I used to; it’s one of the things I love most. I’m lucky enough to get to test fantastic new bikes on track, as well as go riding in nature with my friends.
What’s the most important thing you learned from motorcycling?
Well, I learned a lot from defeat: for example, I learned how to deal with adversaries and teammates, which I think is also useful in life. Before, I used to defend myself from what I perceived as attacks, while now I’ve learned to welcome that and use it to my advantage. Racing helped me to understand different kinds of people and situations, to accept other people’s opinions, and to live life better.
Your firstborn, Alessandra: she’s so young but she’s already a brilliant motorcyclist. Are you proud of her?
Yeah, my daughter is six and a half years old and has been riding since she was three. But not every day or even every week; she likes dancing more… Sometimes we go riding together and we have a great time. I don’t want to force her to ride just because I do it. I think she’ll do something different in life, but I want to be the one to teach her how to ride. Motorbiking will always play a big part in our family.
What would you like to teach your children from the world of motorcycling?
I just want them to love riding in their own way. It’s different for everybody. It could be the riding style, the wonderful emotions you get riding off-road or on the track, that sense of adventure, the speed or even the mechanical side to it. I’d like them to go riding together, but I don’t want to put any pressure on them. We’ll see what the future brings!