In the third part of MCN’s exclusive series of Stoner memories, Stoner’s former LCR mechanic Chris Richardson recalls his first encounter with the supremely talented Aussie.
“My first year with Lucio (Cecchinello) was in 2002 and they just said this Australian guy was going to be doing his first year in Grand Prix with the team.
But I’d not really heard of him. Everybody said he was quick but he would need to learn but each new track we went to it was ‘bang', he was so quick so soon.
"The first time I ever worked with him was at the end of January in 2002 and we tested the Aprilia 250 in Jerez. He came into the box and he was as skinny as anything, ears out to here and he was only 16 and he looked at the bike and said: 'Is that my bike?' Like it was Christmas.
"He just looked so small and on the first day of the test I was pushing him out for his first run and he stalled it. I ran down after him and I thought ‘holy s**t, this is going to be a disaster’. But within four laps he was a second off the lap record and it was astounding.
"We weren’t babysitting him but he always looked so young and fragile and his dad (Colin) came back and said he wasn’t to be treated with kid gloves. He didn’t want to be treated like a child but from the word go you could see he had incredible talent.
"I remember even then people said he was going to be unbelievable and he turned out to be one of the best anybody has ever seen.”