Five-time MotoGP world champion Mick Doohan reckons Casey Stoner would have slipped seamlessly back into winning contention had the Australian been returning to racing action in 2014.
Stoner retired at the end of 2012 after winning two premier class titles, but he has constantly been linked with a future return.
Stoner won’t be racing in MotoGP in 2014, but there are constant rumours that he will end his self-imposed exile with a return next year after quitting the Aussie V8 Supercar scene, despite his own repeated denials that he is planning to step out of retirement.
And while Doohan believes the longer Stoner remains out of MotoGP racing the harder it will be for him to return and re-capture former glory, the Repsol Honda legend is convinced his compatriot would be a competitive force if he opted to return in the future.
Stoner tested several times for HRC in Japan last year and Doohan told MCN recently: “It is always difficult to come back after time away but he has been testing and is still quick. The difference with guys who are still racing is that they are 100% immersed in the sport, whereas Casey has been relaxing away from it. Being fast enough would not be the issue, it is just being 100% committed to racing day-in, day-out. And the longer you are away the harder it is to get back in. The other top guys are doing it all the time and once you stop it is hard to get back on the same page as those guys straight out of the box. With only one year off it wouldn’t be a major issue and even if he's out for two and keeps testing he could probably do it, depending how he has enjoyed sitting at home on the couch."