Casey Stoner was officially made a MotoGP legend during a ceremony at his home Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island on Saturday.
Stoner retired from MotoGP last season, at the age of just 27, as a double world champion.
After making his debut with LCR Honda, Stoner became Ducati's only MotoGP title winner at his first attempt in 2007. He then switched to Repsol Honda in 2011, instantly adding a second crown. Ankle injuries ended hopes of a third title, but Stoner completed a perfect home farewell with his sixth successive victory at Phillip Island last year - his 38th win in the premier-class.
Stoner becomes the 20th person to receive the MotoGP Legend honour, alongside Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Freddie Spencer, John Surtees
and Carlo Ubbiali.
“It seemed almost unrealistic when I was offered this [Legend honour], but also I'm not going to turn it down,” said Stoner. “I appreciate to be added alongside these riders even though sometimes I don't feel I deserve to be there. But I'm very proud of our achievements, in the time that we had in grands prix. It's a privilege for me to be added to the list.”
Turn three at Phillip Island was renamed 'Stoner Corner' during last year's event, in recognition of his amazing record at the circuit.
“This place has been very special to me. In the first couple of years I didn't have a lot of success or a great feeling with the circuit. It was only when I got on the MotoGP bike that I really became comfortable with it,” said Stoner. “Most people I was racing against had actually been here more times than me. So it was nice to learn some of the secrets and be able to somehow find an advantage so that no-one seemed able to really push us in these last years. And no matter what bike we had we were always competitive.”
Stoner then spoke about his post-MotoGP life.
“Honestly it's been quite nice. A little bit of [V8] racing, without any pressure or stress and being able to have some time at home, which I haven't had since I was 14 years old. Being able to spend it with my family and look at our future. I've enjoyed it.”
Rumours that Stoner might return to MotoGP began circulating even before last season's Valencia finale. Stoner again played down a full time comeback, but did admit that a home wild-card was considered.
“I have no wish to return, especially at this moment. I'm happy just to watch from the sidelines. I'm a little bit disappointed I don't get to race at this circuit but everything that goes along with it unfortunately keeps me away,” he said.
“I'm happy not to have the pressures and stresses that I know a lot of the other riders will be going through.