Casey Stoner participated in the public pretesting for the Coca Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours Road Race held on July 7 and 8 at the Suzuka Circuit. At the same location, he also had a press conference where he talked about his enthusiasm about his first participation in the 8-hour endurance race.
Stoner shone as the two-time champion of MotoGP, the pinnacle of road racing. He fully retired from MotoGP in 2012. After a long break, he came back and participated in international race events.
“I’ve always wanted to participate in the Suzuka 8 Hours race, so I’m happy to be here,” Stoner said, smiling. During the time he was active in the MotoGP, he was not able to participate in the Suzuka 8 Hours due to time constraints; this year, he is finally able to take part in it. Joy was written all over his face.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Suzuka 8 Hours from friends and fellow riders in our country, and I’ve always thought about joining since before. But even if I wanted to join, I couldn’t because of my consistently tight schedule in MotoGP. Thus, I am thankful to everyone for giving me the opportunity to join this race once again at a perfect timing.”
Since his retirement, he almost did not have any chance to ride race motorcycles. This pretesting is a real test run for him, after a long time. “For the practice sessions, I want to give it my best shot,” he said. However, the road condition was wet during the two-day pretesting, thus he was not able to test run according to his schedule. Even so, he logged 2:09.204 lap time when the road was dry in the morning of the second day. He wasn’t outdone by his teammates Takumi Takahashi and Michael van der Mark.
When asked by the press if he will be returning as an active racer given this opportunity, he said, “I’m only returning for this race. I am grateful to all the fans who have been continuously supporting me until now. But as of now, I have no plans of coming back as a regular racer. Nevertheless, I want to enjoy my participation in the 8 hours endurance race and prepare myself to race and live up to everyone’s expectations,” he answered.
The 38th match at the 2015 Coca-Cola Zeru Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race will kickoff on July 23, and the finals will be held on July 26. This is Stoner’s first and, maybe, last participation in the 8 hours endurance race. We wouldn’t dare take our eyes off such a dauntless man.
(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)