Honda has revealed that Casey Stoner decided 2012 would be his MotoGP farewell as soon he won the '11 title.
HRC chief Shuhei Nakamoto said he spent several months trying to persuade the double world champion to reconsider before Stoner revealed in France last May that he would retire at the end of the year.
"Casey told us [in 2011] that he was thinking to retire at the end of 2012. It was after he won the Australian GP to secure the championship," Nakamoto said. "He still had one more year to run on his contract with us, so he said he would ride for Honda in 2012, but it was quite a shock to hear he wanted to retire.
"Ever since the season began, he kept saying he wanted to make his decision public. Naturally, we really wanted him to continue with us and repeatedly tried to persuade him to reconsider, but Casey's mind was made up.
"It was at round four in France that he finally got his way and announced his plans during the Thursday press conference. I was OK with that, since I thought it would motivate him to win his final championship and retire in a blaze of glory. Unfortunately it didn't turn out like that, but he still had a great final season."
Nakamoto added that Honda would always be willing to have Stoner back if he wanted to return.
"We held a farewell party for him on the Monday night after the Valencia GP," he said. "After the party was over, the two of us stayed on, chatting, and I found I couldn't control my tears. I really felt so sad about him leaving MotoGP.
"The following day I was asked by a number of Casey's friends what I said to him that night. When I asked why they wanted to know, they said that Casey, who had never wavered until then in his decision to retire, had said 'maybe after all I should keep on racing...'
"Right from the first day Casey came to ride for Repsol Honda, pretty much every day he came up with something new that astonished us. I don't know of any other rider that is such fun to work with.
"I hope he quickly recovers from his injury, and if he ever decides to come back he will find a warm welcome waiting. I told him that's always on offer."