One year after retiring from MotoGP, Casey Stoner will return to the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit to join fellow Aussie World Champions Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan for a lap of honour at the 2013 Tissot Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
There are only three riders who have been recognised with their own stretch of bitumen at the renowned Phillip Island track and it is fitting that all three will ride together in a once-in-a-lifetime display for fans at next month’s MotoGP event.
Stoner has completed hundreds of laps around the 4.445km circuit on race weekends but 2013 will be something different for the two-time World Champion.
“The 2012 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was a fairytale ending to my MotoGP career,” he said.
“It will be nice to take to the track with Mick and Wayne this year without the pressure of competing. I look forward to enjoying it and mixing with the fans that have supported me throughout my career.”
Casey has won the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix for the last six years in a row – in 115 MotoGP outings Stoner started on pole 39 times, set 29 fastest laps and took 69 podium finishes. He won 38 times; only Rossi, his great compatriot Giacomo Agostini and our own Mick Doohan stand above him on the all-time premier-class winners’ list.
Stoner will be joined by Gardner and Doohan on Sunday 20 October just moments before the start of the 2013 Tissot Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in which a new King of Phillip Island will be crowned.
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, Andrew Westacott, said that the Champions’ Parade Laps will be nothing short of momentous.
“Casey has set Phillip Island alight, and thrilled our fans, time and time again. Seeing him one more time on his favourite track flanked by Mick and Wayne will be a unique and electrifying opportunity for fans of all ages,” he said.
For two years in a row at the end of the 1980s Wayne Gardner thrilled Phillip Island racegoers with outstanding victories on his 500cc Honda machinery. This year will carry extra significance for Wayne as he will be joined by his two teenage sons Remy and Luca.
Gardner is thrilled to be appearing at his favourite circuit once more, especially in a year where the world-famous track is commemorating 25 years since it was first granted a round of the Motorcycle World Championship on its stunning Southern Ocean layout.
“As far as Grand Prix victories are concerned, this is where it all began for me,” he remembers fondly, and can relate these memories to his boys’ experiences in Spain as they now embark on their own racing careers.
“It’s going to be a very special occasion,” he said.
“It’s always a great pleasure to ride the Phillip Island Circuit. I have enjoyed many special moments there and riding with Casey and Mick will certainly add to this list.”
On Friday 4 October, just two weeks before the 2013 Tissot Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix weekend begins, it will be 15 years since Mick Doohan won his home race at Phillip Island.
That 1998 success was the second-last race victory in a spectacular two-wheeled career in which Brisbane-born Doohan won 54 Grands Prix and five 500cc World Championships. It was also Doohan’s only victory at the magnificent Bass Strait circuit where the awe inspiring Turn 1 now bears his name.
Doohan’s continued commitment to the sport is unwavering and he recognises the significance of sharing the track with two fellow Australian legends.
“Casey’s return to Phillip Island is big news for MotoGP fans. The crowd will undoubtedly love it and I look forward to playing my part,” Doohan said.
“MotoGP is enjoying great success around the world at the moment with the next generation of legends emerging. We are witnessing a new era for the sport and I encourage fans to make the trip to Phillip Island next month for what promises to be a great event.”