In the sixth part of MCN’s exclusive series of Stoner memories, Lucio Cecchinello, who gave Stoner his first Grand Prix ride and big break into MotoGP in 2006, talks about their time together.
“We played a big part in the early story of Casey when we worked with him for one season in 125s, two in 250s and one in MotoGP.
"At that time our sponsor was keen for us to take a young talent for the future and I don’t think the choice of Casey turned out to be a bad one after we had talked with Dorna and Alberto Puig, who had been helping him a lot in the Telefonica MoviStar junior set-up.
"Everybody felt he was an interesting prospect and although we had several other names we decided to go ahead with him.
"In that time he gave us a lot of great memories but one I remember very well was the first time he tested for us on a standard Aprilia 250 in 2002 in Jerez.
"Marco Melandri was there testing the factory Aprilia 250 and after only a few laps Casey was only a few tenths slower than him.
"Casey only had a standard bike and he was one second faster immediately than our other rider David Checa, so right from the start we knew what a talent he was.
"Undoubtedly one of the highlights was when he got pole position in only our second race in MotoGP in Qatar back in 2006. He then got a podium at the next race in Turkey and this was when people really started to take notice of the talent he was.
"We didn’t expect such great results immediately with him in MotoGP but it has been no surprise that he went onto win two world titles and a lot of races. He is a super talent because a rider that can adapt to any bike in any category like he did was something only a super special talent can do.
"He has unbelievable natural talent and the fact that he started so young in his career with great support from his family meant him on two wheels was like a perfect harmony.
"His great skill was always being so fast right from the off in all kinds of different conditions on different tracks.
"Whether it was the first lap in practice or the start of a race, he was so quick and I think this talent he developed from a very early age in Australia when he was taking part in three lap sprint races where you had to push at the maximum right from the off.
"This developed Casey’s mind from a very young age to do this and it was a big weapon for him in MotoGP. He needed no time to build up his speed and that was very impressive.
"I respect his decision to stop because it shows he cares more about the quality of his life and that of his family than anything else. He wants to live a quiet life and nobody can deny him that after what he has achieved.
"But if he did want to be back in MotoGP then I don’t think there is one team in the paddock that wouldn’t be interested in offering him a ride. Personally I don’t feel he will be back in MotoGP though.”