LeMans: MotoGP Star Casey Stoner Reconfirms Retirement in France, Valentino Rossi Returns to Form With Second Place Finish

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LeMans was drenched this past weekend as MotoGP raged into town. Both in rain and drama, that is.

Addressing the media again after a headline filled week lined with chatter about his retirement from the sport, Oakley’s MotoGP Defending World Champion Casey Stoner reaffirmed his intentions to walk away from his life as a pro rider following the season’s end.

“After a long time thinking, a lot of time talking with my family and my wife, this has been coming for a couple of years now but at the end of this 2012 season I will be not racing in the 2013 Championship,” Casey said, sporting his usual Oakley Signature Series Scalpel eyewear. “I will be finishing my career at the end of this season in MotoGP, and go forward in different things in my life. After so many years of doing this sport which I love, and which myself and my family made so many sacrifices for, after so many years of trying to get to where we have gotten to at this point, this sport has changed a lot and it has changed to the point where I am not enjoying it. I don’t have the passion for it and so at this time it’s better if I retire now.”

But as the buzz continued off the track, the Grand Prix of France saw some of the worst conditions in recent memory. The show went on, however, opening the door for Oakley’s MotoGP Legend Valentino Rossi to capitalize on the situation.

Dani Pedrosa snatched the Holeshot out of the gates – but it was Jorge Lorenzo, Casey and Valentino who’d take control of the race, engaging in an intense battle to the end.

Building on a surge from the fifth position up to third with 21 laps left, Valentino edged Pedrosa – eventually dropping into a head-to-head duel with Casey, his old nemesis. It was Valentino who’d make a dramatic pass on the last lap – pulling away to claim a second place finish and his second podium in two years.

“I’m really, really happy,” Valentino said, rocking his Oakley Signature Series eyewear while appearing to have found his magic from years past. “We knew we had a special opportunity in the wet today, so I tried to ride perfectly and not throw it away. I started well and immediately made up some positions, and then I passed the two Yamahas to get behind Stoner. I was able to match his pace, but then my visor started to fog and I had to slow down for a couple of laps until I was able to clear it by lifting it a little. Once I could see again, I re-passed Cal and then Dovi. When I realized that I could really push hard and that it was possible to catch Stoner again, I went for it. It was a great race and a nice, fun battle with Stoner to the last lap. I enjoyed myself and I’m happy for my team and all the guys at Ducati, who are working so hard for me. Now we must continue giving our all until we’re also able to be competitive in the dry. We found a good base to work from in Portugal, and it wasn’t bad in the dry here, either, although not as good as in the wet. Now our main goal is to take another step forward and make up some more tenths.”