February, 27 2013
Casey Stoner is back in business, but this time the former two-time MotoGP world champion is setting his sights on four wheels rather than two.
And, if the 27-year-old Australian’s domination of motorcycle racing - which included 45 wins in 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP - is anything to go by, auto fans the world over are in for a real treat in the coming months.
Stoner is to make his long-awaited V8 Supercars debut on Friday for Red Bull Racing Australia Holden in the Dunlop Development Series, and will get his first taste of the tough Victoria Park street circuit in practice on Thursday.
By doing so, Stoner will follow in the footsteps of the legendary Wayne Gardner, the last MotoGP world champion to have made the transition to V8 series racing over two decades ago.
“I can’t wait. It’s exciting to get the chance to be at a race weekend after so much time thinking about it,” said Stoner, who retired from MotoGP last year, with a total of 69 premier class podiums in seven years.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic and I’m very much looking forward to it. Everything’s gone pretty smoothly so far but until we’re on the track there’s only so much we can do. But the team has been great and helped me out in absolutely every way possible.”
One of the biggest challenges Stoner faces is the difference in tracks, as evidenced by the tight and fast cement-barriered Victoria Park; a face cry from a typical MotoGP circuit such as Stoner’s beloved Phillip Island.
“It’s a little nerve-racking. It’s something very alien to me racing a car let alone with walls each side of me. It’s not something I’m completely natural with yet, but I want to go out and enjoy it,” he said.
How does the experience of making a debut in a competitive car racing compare with that of a bike?
“It’s very different. Back then I’d been racing bikes my whole life, and of course I was a little bit nervous,” said Stoner, who made the step up to 250cc in 2002 and 2005 and the premier class one year later.
“When you step up the different classes, because it’s all generally the same on two wheels, it’s not a big thing, but for me moving from two wheels to four wheels is something I’ve never done before. I’ll be a little more nervous than I was going into MotoGP. But I’m also very excited.”
Casey Stoner makes his Dunlop Series debut for Red Bull Racing Holden on Friday, March 1.