Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, MotoGP hasn’t raced at Australia’s Phillip Island Circuit since 2019. That’s not only a shame for the riders but also unfortunate for race fans. The rider-favorite track has hosted some of the most memorable battles in MotoGP history. From Rossi and Gibernau’s showdown in 2004 to the four-way battle royale in 2015 to Marquez and Vinales’ scrap in 2019, Phillip Island only elevates the Grand Prix spectacle.
Despite that high level of competition, one man seemed to rise above the rest—Casey Stoner. The Aussie’s first crack at Phillip Island on a MotoGP bike resulted in a sixth-place finish. That wasn’t the case thereafter. Joining the Ducati Factory team in 2007, Stoner stormed to victory with a 6.7-second cushion. He repeated that performance in 2008, beating Valentino Rossi to the line by 6.5 seconds.
Rossi cut that deficit to 1.9 seconds in 2009, but number 27’s stranglehold on the Australian round only tightened in 2010, when he finished nearly nine seconds ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner not only secured his fifth-consecutive home Grand Prix victory in 2011 but also clinched the MotoGP Championship on home soil.
Still, the Australian rider saved the best for last. In his final performance at Phillip Island, Stoner outpaced the field by 9.2 seconds. The rout brought Stoner’s career full circle, as he retired from racing following the subsequent race at Valencia (Spain).
Aside from a brief visit in 2013, the two-time MotoGP champion hadn’t returned to the island in nearly ten years. Along with MotoGP race-winner, and fellow Aussie, Chris Vermeulen, Stoner rode back to racing’s hallowed ground, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at his Phillip Island strategy. Stoner’s detailed descriptions and masterful race craft illustrate why he was such a dominant force on the Australian circuit.
It’s doubtful that we’ll ever see another racer rule Phillip Island like Stoner, but we still can’t wait for the battle to commence at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.