Posted: 21 Nov 2013
Casey Stoner attracted a lot of criticism during his relatively short MotoGP career, some of it perhaps because he showed he could outright beat a certain Italian in 2007. However I think a large part of this criticism comes from the fact he simply wasn’t willing to play the game you have to play to be popular in MotoGP.
For this reason I was baffled at Stoner’s choice to release an autobiography. Stoner has always been a private man – he admits that in the book – and I was of the impression that when he departed motorcycle racing so swiftly in 2012, we’d not hear from him again. I was wrong. Having read the book, I’m still unclear why Stoner chose to release it; maybe to answer a few unanswered questions, to put people straight? I think there’s more to it that but to be fair, the reason for writing it is irrelevant – the book is brilliant.
Stoner’s route to becoming World Champion was a damned hard one. That’s not to put down the route taken by any other World Champion, but Stoner was essentially barred from racing in his own country because parents couldn’t hack him beating their little sweeties weekend in weekend out. His family moved from place to place putting any money they earned into a pot so one day they could take their little protege - who was winning on anything they put him on - to Europe to advance his career. When it became clear he could not progress with racing in Australia this move came a lot sooner. The family moved to England and ended up living in a caravan on the west coast with barely a penny to their name.
I’ve always been a fan of Stoner but reading through the chapters on his childhood brought about some new found respect for the double World Champion.
It’s a well-known fact that Casey Stoner did not like the politics that come with MotoGP and his book does a very good job at explaining why. Whatever your opinion may be, it’s interesting to read Stoner’s take on it all. Many put Stoner’s multiple crashes in 2006 down to the learning curve of joining MotoGP, Stoner disagrees. It’s stories like this throughout the book which really make it worth reading; you don’t have to agree with what he’s saying but it’s important to take in his side of the story which until now has never really been told.
Stoner was always a mysterious character throughout his career in Grand Prix racing and the book answers a lot of the questions which may have arisen during those years. Something you often see asked about Stoner these days is “Why retire so early?”. I’m not going to lie to you, the book doesn’t answer this outright. There’s obviously more to the story than he’d ever divulge but the book does help the reader gain an understanding of the type of person Casey Stoner is and this in turn helps you to form some kind of understanding of why he’d hang up his leathers.
Whether you liked Stoner or not, if you consider yourself a fan of MotoGP give this book a read. In my eyes, Stoner was one of the most misunderstood Grand Prix riders of recent times. He just wanted to race, but as it wasn’t that simple, he achieved his dream and chose to move on. Good on him, I say.
You can buy Stoner’s book, “Pushing the limits” here.