Australian motorcycling legend Mick Doohan believes Casey Stoner might “do a Schumacher” and return to MotoGP racing.
The 27-year-old Stoner stunned the sport in May when he announced he would retire at the end of the 2012 season.
Doohan, who won five consecutive 500cc world championship titles between 1994-98, said on Tuesday it wouldn’t be a shock to see Stoner make a comeback like Formula One great Michael Schumacher did in 2010 more than three years after retiring.
“I wouldn’t write off the chances of seeing him in a couple of years time when he thinks he has some more years left and do a Michael Schumacher,” Doohan told the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix website.
Doohan said although Stoner’s retirement surprised him because of his age, the draining nature of the motorcycling calendar has taken its toll on the two-time MotoGP champion.
“He’s been there for so long – a lot of people forget that while he’s just 27, he’s been in the world championship since he was 16,” said Doohan.
“It’s very rare that people in any sport with such a regimented season go on longer than 10 years.”
Despite Stoner returning to racing just two weeks ago in Japan after recovering from ankle surgery, Doohan rates the Honda rider a big chance of winning his sixth consecutive Australian MotoGP this Sunday.
“There’s no doubt that this year it’s going to be very difficult for the other guys to keep on his tail,” said Doohan.
“In the past he’s just taken off and made it look relatively simple.”
Stoner finished third in the rain-shortened Malaysian GP last weekend behind his Spanish teammate Dani Pedrosa and championship leader, Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.