Casey Stoner to retire from MotoGP!

Casey Stoner, the most successful MotoGP rider since 2006, is to retire at the end of this season.
Stoner, French MotoGP 2012
Stoner, French MotoGP 2012
© Gold and Goose

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... PAGE 2 - CLICK HERE

"And so, basically, we won't be continuing any more. It would be nice if I could say I would stay just one more year, but then when does it stop? So we decided to finish everything as we are now."

"It's not going to change anything for this season," Stoner later added. "I'm still going to put in every bit of effort that we can. We still want to win races and have some great races with these riders alongside me [at the conference]."

Seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi used the same press conference to again insist that he will race on for at least another two years, despite a report in the UK's Daily Telegraph claiming he would retire at the end of 2012.

Rossi and fellow world champion Lorenzo both said they were surprised by the news and that Stoner's departure will be a big loss for MotoGP.

All of the top riders are out of contract at the end of this season and Honda - without a title for four years prior to Stoner's arrival - must now try and find a replacement.

Stoner's team-mate Dani Pedrosa is third in the championship, and almost certain to be retained given Stoner's announcement.

Repsol Moto2 star Marc Marquez is expected to move to MotoGP next year, but - like all rookies - will not be able to ride for a factory team.

Will Honda now mount a determined pursuit of Lorenzo, or even Rossi, to fill the void?

Stoner (35 wins), Rossi (21), Lorenzo (18) and Dani Pedrosa (13) are the only riders to have claimed more than one race victory since the start of the 800cc era in 2007. MotoGP switched to 1000cc bikes for this year.

Beyond bikes, Stoner has previously expressed an interest in Australia's V8 Supercar Championship and drove Craig Lowndes' TeamVodafone machine during a private test last December.

Loris Capirossi, who retired last year, is the only rider other than Stoner to have taken a MotoGP victory for Ducati since 2007 - the Italian scoring a wet/dry win at Motegi that year...PAGE 3 - CLICK HERE

Ducati have taken just two podiums since Stoner's departure, Rossi's ongoing struggles with the Desmosedici exposing the true level of Stoner's incredible talent.

Earlier this month, Stoner rejected the initial retirement report in the Spanish media, saying it was "just another rumour".

He added: "I've said in the past that I'm not going to keep riding until my mid 30s. But I haven't decided what I'm doing, so certainly no-one else is going to know.

"Until you hear it out of my mouth then don't believe anything you read."

Few expected to hear the retirement words from Stoner just two weeks' later.

After the press conference, Stoner explained in depth why he had reached his decision: Casey Stoner: Why I'm leaving MotoGP.

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