Lucio Cecchinello, the man who played an integral role in helping Casey Stoner become double MotoGP world champion, says he is not surprised the Australian has decided to retire at the peak of his career.
Stoner’s Grand Prix career started with Cecchinello’s Aprilia 250cc squad back in 2002 and it was the popular Italian who gave him his big break in MotoGP on a satellite Honda for the 2006 campaign.
Stoner immediately showed glimpses of his speed and talent when he stormed to a stunning pole position in just his second race in Qatar.
He followed that up with a brilliant third place at the Istanbul Park in Turkey before joining Ducati’s factory team for 2007 to embark on a winning spree that saw him become the most successful rider in the 800cc era.
Stoner stunned the MotoGP paddock in France last week when he confirmed 2012 will be his last, having decided to retire at the end of the season.
LCR Honda boss Cecchinello, who is running German Stefan Bradl this season, told MCN: “I’m not really surprised because he always said that his plan was to show his potential, win the world title and then say goodbye.
"He won two titles, so he stayed even longer than what he said right at the beginning when he rode with us. If Casey has decided to retire it means he has lost his motivation and it makes no sense to continue riding at 350kph without being motivated.
"He has reached his main goals and everybody needs motivation. Once you achieve your personal goals maybe now he is looking for something else in his life and I totally respect his decision.”
Cecchinello said the standout memory he has of Stoner will be his brilliant pole position in Qatar, which he claimed despite missing the last three pre-season tests due to a shoulder operation and only arriving in Doha late after a delayed flight.
Cecchinello added: “I have a lot of special memories because he surprised everybody with his amazing level of talent. All what he does on track is very natural and everybody has difficulty to understand how fast he can be.
"My special memory is when he made his debut in the MotoGP class with us. It was ‘wow’. He got pole position in an amazing way in Qatar and he fought for the victory so early and he was on the podium in only his third race.”