Casey Stoner has moved to quash rumors of his retirement which appeared in the Spanish press after Jerez. He would continue competing in MotoGP for as long as he still enjoyed the racing, and right now, he was still having fun, he said after the pre-event press conference for the Estoril MotoGP round. When he stopped having fun, he would retire, but that moment had not yet been reached, he said.
The rumors of his retirement which had emerged had irritated the reigning World Champion, and he had a few sharp comments for the media who made them. Asked by one journalist what he meant when he said he intended to continue racing for a few more years, Stoner retorted "I was basically saying, don't listen to what you read in the press. Don't read what you produce." Stoner compared it to rumors that appeared after he took time off from racing while suffering with lactose intolerance, which also claimed he was ready to walk away from racing. "This was the same thing as a few years ago, I spent one race out because I was not capable of racing, but everyone said I was retiring during this period. So this is just another one to start with the rumors, but it has no fact."
But where had the rumors come from, Stoner was asked? "I have no idea to be honest," the Australian replied. "It's a little bit frustrating, I've spoken about it this year and last year, that I'm not going to be racing forever, and that I will be retiring in the not-too-distant future for sure, but the fact that everyone's picked this up and just run with it, I don't know if somebody's just started to talk and just started to mouth things off and somebody's believed it. But everybody's good at producing stories in this championship, I'm surprised anyone believes anything, really. Until you hear it out of the horse's mouth, there's just so many rumors going around permanently."
Stoner denied that this was a ploy to more pressure on Honda to increase his salary, claiming it was more likely aimed at him. "It's probably somebody else trying to put more pressure on me, trying to create more drama that I have to deal with, it could be anybody really. It's quite funny again."
Do you think you will know when it's time to retire?
"I think I'll know when it's time," Stoner said. "I am actually going to stick to my word, I'm going to retire when I stop enjoying racing. There's so many people that say that but you see them retire a lot later and you know they haven't been enjoying racing for a while. The money keeps people here, they're making money, they've got the lifestyle, but I'm not in it for the money, I'm not in it for the lifestyle, I'm in it for racing. When I do stop enjoying it, I will hang up the leathers and go home."
And you're still enjoying it?
"At the moment, yes. I mean, results are good, so ..." Stoner joked. "But in general, I still enjoy it, it gets tough sometimes, but I still love my racing."
Would the impending rule changes aimed at reducing costs and trying to increase the show persuade him to quite, Stoner was asked?
"This would convince me," Stoner was emphatic, before returning to a theme he has talked about before. "They've got to stop changing the rules. Even this thing, that Jeremy Burgess suggested, that 600cc would be better. How would 600cc be the best way forward? Honestly? It would make it even more expensive trying to eke every little bit of power out of it and it's just going to be the same problem." The answer to improving the races was simple, he said. "Just leave it at 1000cc. Just leave it. Don't change the rules. Give us a couple more liters of fuel. Don't change those rules. Keep the weight limit, and don't change those rules. It's so simple just to make a championship, and that would create racing. Simple as that. But no, they have to keep changing the rules to make sure the sport is spicy enough, but they don't realize that the riders will make the difference when everything's left alone."
Right now, Stoner explained, he was working on signing contracts on a year-by-year basis, which would give him the greatest freedom and flexibility. Signing year-by-year was the best thing for him, he explained, "unless you have a bad year, and then you're in trouble! But honestly, year by year is probably going to be the best thing, and that'll be the best way forward. It's a little bit more freedom." He confirmed that he already had an offer from Honda, and that they had been talking about this for a while. "They started this pretty much last year, so this is normal. After what we did together, and everything last year, of course they were going to get me for 2013 when the contract is up, so there's lots of things going on, to be honest."
So would Stoner continue for one more year? Two more years? "I don't know yet. It's until I stop racing, and until my wife and I decide, you know, enough's enough. It's not now."