Reigning world champion Casey Stoner stunned the MotoGP world by announcing at the weekend's French Grand Prix that he would be retiring at the end of the 2012 season.

Stoner had previously dismissed his retirement plans as rumours, but has now publicly stated that he will not continue racing past the end of the 2012 season. The works Honda team leader said: “After a long time 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 different things in my life.

“After so many years in this sport which I love, and which my family and I have made so many sacrifices for, after so many years of trying to get to where we are now, the sport has changed a lot, to the point where I am no longer enjoying it.”

“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.”