Reigning world champion Casey Stoner has stunned the MotoGP paddock by announcing that he will retire at the end of the 2012 season.
The Australian had denied rumours that he was to quit the sport at the previous round of the championship in Portugal, but he revealed his intention to call time on his career at a press conference ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix.
Stoner explained: "After a long time thinking, a lot of time talking with my family and my wife, I will be not racing in the 2013 Championship."
"After so many years of doing this 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.
"And so, basically, we won't be continuing any more. It would be nice if I could say I would stay one more year, but then where does it stop? So we decided to finish everything as we are now."
Stoner's Repsol Honda team confirmed the news on their official Twitter feed, saying "Casey just announced that 2012 will be his final year in the MotoGP Championship. Let's hope he has a fantastic year!"