Signature on a napkin made Stoner a Ducati rider

Casey Stoner riding a Ducati

The former sporting director of LCR has revealed how a signature on a napkin enabled Casey Stoner’s move to Ducati, and hence his 2007 MotoGP world championship title.

The Australian came into the premier class ranks with LCR, on a two-year contract with the Honda Racing Corporation.

However, he would only see out half of that deal before switching to Ducati, where he became the Bologna marque’s first and thus far only MotoGP champion.

Now, then-LCR man Oscar Haro has revealed the unusual way in which Stoner’s release played out.

“Livio Suppo [the Ducati team manager of the day] wanted to sign Stoner, but Casey had a two-year contract with HRC,” Haro told Spanish television presenter Nico Abad on his NicoAbadTV Twitch show.

“There was a meeting in Portugal and Lucio Cecchinello came up with his proposal: ‘I know Casey’s dream is to become an official rider. I have no intention of ruining his life, even though he has a contract with us for another year.’”

Cecchinello, the ‘LC’ in ‘LCR’, was willing to let Stoner go so long as his team landed a suitable replacement.

Talks were held with Sete Gibernau, who had twice finished runner-up to Valentino Rossi on a Gresini Honda in recent years, in what would have been a direct swap with #27.

However, Gibernau apparently baulked at financials, and the talks fizzled out.

“We explained to him [Gibernau] that we were a satellite team and we didn’t have an infinite budget, but he could have raced on a Honda with Michelin tyres,” recounted Haro.

“He paused and we let it go.”

Then engineer Ramon Forcada proposed another Spaniard, namely Carlos Checa, who was more than happy to sign, on the dotted line or otherwise.

“He was at the hotel bar and I asked him if he wanted to ride our bike,” explained Haro.

“He asked me if it was Honda-Michelin, the best at that moment.

“When I nodded, he said, ‘Give me a napkin and let’s sign.’”

Stoner would become a world champion with Honda also, he and Valentino Rossi still being the only riders to win premier class titles on different makes of bike thus far in the MotoGP era.

Haro retired at the end of the 2021 season, while Forcada is Andrea Dovizioso’s crew chief at RNF Yamaha, and Suppo has returned to the paddock as team manager at Suzuki.

The 2022 MotoGP season continues this weekend with the Argentina Grand Prix, at Termas de Rio Hondo.

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