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May 28, 2012, 11.39 AM IST
MOTORCYCLING-DOOHAN:Interview: Doohan hoping Stoner has a change of mind
By Alan Baldwin
MONACO (Reuters) - Casey Stoner might yet be talked out of retiring at the end of the MotoGP season, according to motorcycling great and fellow Australian Mick Doohan.
Speaking to Reuters at the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, the five times 500cc world champion said he hoped the MotoGP title holder might have a change of mind despite announcing his departure.
"There's still a long way to go in the season so you never know, he could have a change of heart before the end," said the 46-year-old.
"You never know how determined Honda get to keep him, because the last thing they want is to lose him especially as he's in such a dominant position. It's cheaper to try and retain him at any cost than to try and bring another guy through."
Stoner announced at the French Grand Prix this month that he had lost his love for the sport and would retire at the end of the current championship.
The 26-year-old, who won the 2007 crown with Ducati and 2011 with Honda and is currently second overall behind Yamaha's 2010 champion Jorge Lorenzo, said he had been mulling his decision for a couple of years.
"This sport has changed a lot and it has changed to the point where I am not enjoying it," he said. "I don't have the passion for it and so at this time it's better if I retire now."
Doohan, who won five successive titles for Honda and only retired in 1999 after his broken legs could take no more punishment, said he had been as stunned as anyone to hear the declaration.
While he understood the reasoning behind it, the Australian said he was also puzzled.
"For me it's a bit of a shock, that's for sure," he said.
"He's been there a long time too. Not too many guys join the world championship at 16, so he has been putting in the hard yards there. It's a bit of a shame that he sees it that way but he's the only one who can make that decision."
JOY OF RIDING
"I can understand it and I can't understand it," said the winner of 54 grands prix from 117 starts.
"I can understand that he wants to get rid of the rumours. Even within Honda and so on if he said something there'd be rumours and he'd be forever getting asked about it so he just figured get it out in the open and that'll be the end of it.
"I am just hoping for the sport and for himself as well that he can actually regain the joy of riding," said Doohan, whose five top flight titles have been bettered only by Italians Giacamo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.
The plain-talking rider, who had a sometimes abrasive relationship with the media during his championship years, reminded Stoner that the rough came with the smooth.
"That side of the sport (the media and sponsorship work) is essential to be able to be in that position to ride such a great machine and to be part of such a great championship."
Stoner has been one of MotoGPs leading lights since he moved into the top category in 2006 after winning races in the 125 and 250cc categories.
He was also runner-up in MotoGP in 2008 but missed several races in 2009 due to a mystery illness and has suffered arm problems this year.
"I hope it's not just something he hasn't really thought out too long and hard. Hopefully he will come back and it was just something to try and create a bit more press for himself," declared Doohan.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Patrick Johnston)
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