Casey Stoner has withdrawn from the Czech Motorcycle Grand Prix at Brno.
Honda's defending world champion injured his right ankle in a fall during practice for the Indianapolis Grand Prix last weekend; he was hoping to be fit for this weekend's race but is still unable to put any weight on the ankle.
That rules out riding at the roller-coaster Brno circuit with its succession of tight right turns, and Stoner becomes the third rider to be ruled out on medical grounds, after Ducati's Nicky Hayden and privateer Hector Barbera.
The defending world champion made the announcement on Thursday at a media conference ahead of Sunday's race attended by championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, title rival Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, Karel Abraham and Yonny Hernandez.
BAD NEWS FOR EVERYBODY
Yamaha factory rider Lorenzo, who is currently leading the standings by 18 points, said that while Stoner's absence might help him in a competitive sense, it was bad news for everybody.
“It's very bad news for the championship that Casey has retired from this race and the next two or three races,” he said. “It's also bad that Nicky and Héctor aren't going to race on Sunday, so we wish all three a quick recovery, especially Casey, as he is a very tough competitor for me and for Dani, so without him the next races will not be the same.
“For sure it will be easier for both of us to win races because Casey is always there; he's very fast and very competitive.”
Stoner's Honda works team mate Pedrosa, Lorenzo's closest competitor, was equally downbeat.
“Obviously it's bad news, especially for my team and for me. Casey and I always push each other in every session. Being alone in the team, I have to push just that much harder.
STONER NEEDS SURGERY
Earlier in the day Stoner explained that he had to head back to Australia to undergo treatment on his ankle injury sustained last weekend in Indianapolis. He left Brno on Thursday evening for Australia after his doctors advised him to have surgery on his damaged ankle to avoid any permanent injury.
Stoner said he hoped to be back for his home race in Philip Island in late October, but said nothing could be confirmed until after the surgery has taken place. He also expressed his severe disappointment at the injury, which has put paid to his championship chances.
“We're pretty much out of it, even going into this weekend,” he said. “But now that we're not competing it's done and dusted. Very frustrating, but life goes on.”