Reigning double world champion Casey Stoner has made the shock announcement that he will retire from MotoGP at the end of the 2012 season.
The 26-year-old, who vehemently denied retirement rumours at the previous Estoril round, made the announcement during the pre-event press conference for this weekend's French Grand Prix at Le Mans (pictured).
The Australian has been a full time grand prix rider since 2002, winning races twice in 125cc, five times in 250cc and 35 times since moving to MotoGP in 2006.
Stoner won Ducati's only MotoGP title at his first attempt in 2007, then claimed a second world crown after switching to Repsol Honda for 2011.
Stoner, who currently leads the 2012 standings by one point over Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, became a father for the first time just before the start of this season.
"Afternoon everyone," began Stoner. "Basically this has come after a lot of time thinking, a lot of time talking to my family and my wife, and 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. 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 the 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.
"There are a lot of things that have disappointed me, and also a lot of things I have loved about this sport, but unfortunately the balance has gone in the wrong direction.