2012 marked the end of an era when double MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner hung up his leathers after finishing third in the Valencia race in November.
The Australian– widely acclaimed as one of the fastest riders in history – quit at just 27 after becoming disillusioned at constant rule changes and fearful that his lifelong passion for motorcycling would be irretrievably lost if he raced on.
Stoner won 38 races and remains the only rider ever to tame Ducati’s brutal Desmosedici when he won 10 races to win the Bologna factory’s historic first premier class title in 2007.
In the first part of MCN’s exclusive series of Stoner memories, Ducati boss Vittoriano Guareschi recalls how Stoner shocked the world by taking victory in the first race of the new 800cc era at Qatar in 2007.
“It was immediately clear how fast he was and what an unbelievable talent he was when he first rode for Ducati. But I remember the first win in Qatar in 2007 as a really special moment.
"We made a good bike for that year but for me the candidate for the championship for us and the best chance to win races was Loris (Capirossi). When Casey won for the first time I was really happy but it was like f**k, it would have been better for Loris to win the race because in the long run he would have the better chance to win the championship.
"For everybody in 2007 nobody expected Casey to be fighting for the title. But he won 10 races and the job he did was incredible. I remember the fight with Valentino in Qatar and two laps from the end I was sure Valentino had kept some margin and it was possible for him to attack and win.
"In reality though it was Casey that had some margin and he was in complete control of the race. It is a shame he is stopping because he is still young and fast and he will leave a big hole in the paddock because this sport needs talent like him in it.”