Retiring MotoGP star Casey Stoner has his sights set on forging a ‘second career’ in V8 Supercars, but says he won’t rush a move into the main championship.
With his final MotoGP season currently in limbo while he nurses an ankle injury, the 26-year-old is at Sandown this weekend for the category’s Dick Smith 500, observing proceedings from TeamVodafone’s garage.
His appearance at Sandown has further fuelled speculation that the two-time world champion will make the switch from bikes to the touring car class in the near future.
“I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I want to race in V8 Supercars,” Stoner, who tested a Triple Eight Race Engineering V8 Supercar last December, told Speedcafe.com of his plans.
“Since I was 12, I’ve always been interested, and it was always my plan during my whole career to drive a V8 and see what it was like.
“I got my first opportunity last year, and it is definitely something that I’m interested in for the future.
“It could become a new goal, a new chapter in my career, but I have to be realistic and see if we’re capable of doing anything.”
Expanding on how he will go about testing the V8 Supercar waters, Stoner said he will not attempt to race in the main championship until he has proven to himself that he is ready.
“Testing is first and foremost,” he said.
“Bikes are quite a lot different to these things, quite a different animal.
“I don’t have a set plan from there, (but) I don’t think I can jump straight into the main game. It’s not the way it is done and it’s not really correct.
“It would probably mean I do some racing in the Development Series to see if I’m competitive enough, to see if I have the speed. But first I have to get time in the car and get myself comfortable behind the wheel.”
Stoner’s plans would appear to sit well with that of TeamVodafone team principal Roland Dane, who has previously told Speedcafe.com that he hopes to add a second Development Series entry to his stable next season.
Although Stoner has now visited multiple V8 Supercars events as a guest of TeamVodafone and enjoys a relationship with the squad’s soon-to-be title sponsor Red Bull, the 26-year-old says it’s too early to say if he’ll end up racing with Triple Eight.
“We spent time with the Vodafone team last year at Bathurst and in Sydney, and they’ve been fantastic to us over the years,” says Stoner of the team.
“Roland is very good, very easy to get along with and he’s a very clever guy. He obviously runs a fantastic operation.
“(But) you never know where I’ll end up, and where I deserve to end up. I need to see if I have speed and pace and if I’m capable. I haven’t really thought about where I’ll end up.”
The Dick Smith Sandown 500 event will conclude today with a 20 minute warm-up session and the 161 lap feature race.
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Sandown 500 Race Guide