Cold Case: Stoner Opens Up Old Ducati Wounds In New Autobiography
by stafftastic
Monday, January 20, 2014

Casey Stoner's mid-season illness in '09 was the catalyst that broke his relationship with Ducati. Here, he poses in happier times while under employ at Ducati.
image thanks, Ducati
Former world champion Casey Stoner is extremely critical of his former employer Ducati in a semi-recently published autobiography.

Stoner won the MotoGP world championship with Ducati in 2007, the maiden title for both the Australian and Italian manufacturer in MotoGP. Stoner, Ducati and Bridgestone were a nearly unbeatable combination in MotoGP for more than a season, but by 2009 relations between Ducati and Stoner were on edge.

Stoner began the 2009 season by winning the opening round at Qatar and he was a frequent podium or top five finisher for the first half of the season, winning again at Mugello. Stoner was left exhausted after his Mugello win and seemed drained in victory circle after several races.

Stoner was in contention for the 2009 MotoGP title when he made the shock decision to take three races off to try and get back to full strength.

Stoner's recently published book gives great insight on that period, because details of his illness, a diagnosis and the day to day struggle were never really fleshed out due to Stoner's penchant for privacy.

Stoner writes that Ducati were not comfortable with his decision to take a sabbatical from racing. He writes, I got an email from Claudio Domenicali, who was CEO of Ducati Corse, basically saying, 'I hope you don't expect to get paid for this.'

The situation grew more tense when it was reported that Ducati had made a big money offer to Jorge Lorenzo to replace Stoner on the Marlboro Ducati team, and conversely, when photos were published on-line of Stoner fishing in Australia while on break from racing. Was resulted was a classic case of "bad marriage" with poor communication between both parties, slathered on a foundation of resentment. Stoner was on edge when he heard the Lorenzo rumors while Ducati were uncomfortable with trying to explain to media and sponsors how it was that Stoner was well enough to deep sea fish but not well enough to race.

Although he writes that he'd had "every test imaginable" in 2009, in an attempt to find what left him in this weakened condition, and had seen expert doctors in Europe and the US, incredibly Stoner hadn't been given a lactose intolerance test. He took one late in his sabbatical and the results were dramatic.

Stoner returned to form at Estoril when he finished just over six seconds behind Yamaha's Rossi. He then won at both Phillip Island and Sepang. He crashed at the final race at Valencia but still finished the season with four wins and in fourth place in the MotoGP championship.

Behind the scenes, judging from Stoner's statements, it's clear that his relationship with Ducati was seriously damaged if not broken. Back on race pace and full heath, Stoner asked Ducati to tear up his contract and re-write it to show him what he was worth to them. Ducati played coy, further enraging Stoner.

In the end I had to spell it out. I said, 'Rip up my current contract and show me what I am worth to you.' They wouldn't do it, and that told me all I needed to know. Up until then there was a chance that I'd stay but that effectively made my decision easy.

Stoner signed with Honda.


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