After the announcement that Casey Stoner would be flying back to Australia for surgery on his injured ankle, effectively ruling him out of contention for the 2012 MotoGP title, the Repsol Honda team organized a press conference to give Stoner the opportunity to explain his decision. The decision had not been an easy one, as Stoner had initially been intending to race at Brno, but a phone call from his doctors in Australia convinced him it would be too dangerous, as a crash could see him suffer permanent damage. It would be better to return to Australia, have surgery, and try to be fit enough to race again later in the year, with the goal being to return before Phillip Island to be as competitive as possible there.
"The plan at this stage is to get back to Australia as soon as possible," Stoner said. "because, after travelling, we have to wait for the inflammation to go down before we can have surgery. We've already got everything lined up, hopefully for early next week if the inflammation has come down enough. We're going to get surgery as soon as possible and get on the road to recovery and see how quickly we can be back."
"I've done about as much damage as I can do down there. My doctor is very honest with things. Normally, he has no problem with getting back out there and me riding on damaged limbs, but as soon as he read the report from the US he advised that I didn't ride in Indy. We got him the discs with data as soon as we could, and every opinion we've had has said to get off this foot as soon as possible because If I damaged it again, it could be a permanent injury and cause a lot of issues," Stoner told the press.
Asked when he would return, Stoner replied "No idea at this point. The plan is to come back maybe a race or two before Phillip Island but until we have the surgery we really can't say exactly when we'll be able to return. We will have to see how everything goes, it could be a lot sooner than we expect or it could be a lot later. I have a timeline in my head but it might not necessarily agree with the doctors' and it might not necessarily agree with what happens."
"We've already been in contact with two or three doctors, but there's always one doctor that I take his opinion first and foremost among everybody, and he's never led me in the wrong direction, he's the doctor who led me into fixing my lactose intolerance, and many other injuries I've had in the past. He's never led us in the wrong direction, and I don't believe he has this time."
Was it a risk racing in Indianapolis?
"As far as damage goes, because we locked up the foot so much, it wouldn't really damage too much unless we crashed again. If we'd had an accident and really damaged it again, it could have been very risky. But my whole team, everybody was there, they'd put in all the effort for all the weekend, I didn't just arrive on race day and say no, we're not doing it. I'd already put in a qualifying time, I'd already got us in a good position, I knew we had a pace a lot higher than most of the riders on the grid, and even with an injury, I was confident I could be quite a lot faster than some of them. It's just disappointing, we had such a good opportunity to get some good championship points back and and in the end, it's pretty much finished our championship point at this point." The closeness between Stoner and his team was evident from the fact that his entire team had turned out to show their support for Stoner and were present at the press conference.
The main emotion for Stoner was disappointment, he told reporters. "I'm disappointed like you can expect. It makes you feel almost like not even starting the season. When you got this far in, you've put this much effort in, things haven't gone perfectly for us, but when you've put this much effort in and this late in the season, when you're coming to circuits and a part of the season that suits me better, to have this kind of disappointment is extremely frustrating. Especially in my last year. I guess it's the way that racing goes, and we shouldn't really expect something different, but it's a big hit to the heart for sure.
Could it make him think again about retirement?
"No. I'm not in this championship to finish it perfectly on a big fairy tale, you know? Maybe if things had got better and we hadn't had all the problems we'd had with chatter, maybe things would still have ended up the same, we don't know. I'm not going to just keep going, next year we could have a similar issue, we could be in a really good position and something go wrong. But I'm not going to just keep waiting for the fairytale ending; this is a hard sport, and it's difficult to stay at the front at the best of times. We will bow out with the best results we can and doing the best we can."
But is it important to win again before he retired at the end of the season?
"Whatever race I enter, I'm in it to win it. It has been difficult to find motivation some races this year, and I really want to get back as quickly as I can, to make sure I get at least a few races before the end of the season to try, to give it a go. It's been a tough season, and this has just been the icing on the cake really."
Would he push himself to return early, or would he wait until he had made a complete recovery before racing, with an eye to his post-racing life?
"I've never been like this [waiting until he is completely fit - Ed.], I was planning to race this weekend, but when I got the phone call from doctors... Already, they weren't so impressed that I raced in Indianapolis, also my physio was recommending that I don't. So yes, I'll be back as soon as I can, as long as I know I cannot do huge damage, like the situation I'm in now, the rest I can manage. I want to return as quickly as I can."
Below is the press release issued by Repsol Honda Team about Stoner's condition:
Casey confirms he will have operation in Australia
Today in Brno, current World Champion Casey Stoner confirmed that he will leave for Australia immediately to have surgery on his right ankle.
Casey, who suffered a terrible accident in qualifying for the Indianapolis GP last Saturday, was waiting for specialists to study the MRI scan and give him feedback and a suggested route for recovery. After speaking with them at lunchtime today, Casey was informed that it was crucial he received an operation to the torn ligaments as a priority.
At this time it is not confirmed how long the Repsol Honda rider will be out for, this depends on the success of the surgery and his subsequent recovery ability. The operation is scheduled for next week in Australia, HRC will give more information when available.
"I'm hugely disappointed for my team and all the guys around me. We've been waiting since Indianapolis for my doctor in Australia to receive the discs of the MRI scan and x-rays to fully understand the situation. The doctors in America were fantastic but I needed a specialist to study them and give me his report and explain exactly what's gone wrong. We were hoping that once they had seen the scans that it wouldn't be as bad as I first suspected and that we could race here, but in fact it was the opposite and a lot worse than first expected. We only found out at lunchtime today that it was game over but it seems this is our only option at this point. We don't have a timescale for my return yett - it depends on the surgery and how fast I can recover. We still have a season to complete and this isn't just me giving up, I want to get back to racing as soon as possible. I have a job to do and a career to see through to the end and for it to finish like this would be a disaster, so I'll be back as soon as I can to take part in as many races as I can before the end of the season".