Friday, May 18



By Michael Esdaile

World MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner is to retire at the end of this year.

No, this is not an April Fools' Day message.  It is straight from the man himself.

Stoner made the announcement to a shocked press conference before this weekend's fourth round of the championship at Le Mans, France.

Before the third round of this year's championship at Estoril in Portugal, Spanish weekly motorcycle magazine Solo Moto had run a story that Stoner was to retire at the end of the year, but this had then been discounted by Stoner.

However, as the press assembled at Le Mans for this weekend's race, Stoner took his place alongside former world champions Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow, and read the following statement:

"Afternoon everyone.

“Basically, this has come after a long time of thinking, a lot of time talking with my family and my wife. 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 with something different with my life," the Australian announced.

“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 and this point,  this sport has changed a lot, and it’s changed to the point that I’m not enjoying it, I don’t have the passion for it.  So at this time, it’s better if I retire now.  There’s a lot of things that have disappointed me and also a lot of things that I have loved about this sport, but unfortunately, the balance has gone in the wrong direction, and so basically I won’t be continuing any more.  It would be nice if I could say that I will stay for just one more year, but then when does it stop?  So we decided to finish everything as we are now.”

As for the race in Le Mans, Stoner hopes to resolve the chatter issues which have plagued him throughout the season so far:  “The last two races we’ve struggled a little bit with chatter, especially the last two, and it’s something we want to really reduce so we have to work hard here.”

For more from the Le Mans press conference, click here