Enigmatic Stoner quits at the top of his game
Since making his Grand Prix debut as a fresh-faced 15-year-old wildcard in the 125cc race at Donington Park back in 2001, Casey Stoner has made no secret of his intention to make his racing career a short one. Even so, the reigning world champion's decision to walk away from the sport now, at the peak of his powers, has come as a huge shock to everybody in the MotoGP paddock.
Always an enigmatic and outspoken character, Stoner cited a diminishing passion for the sport and his disappointment at the current shift away from pure prototype racing as the primary reasons behind his decision, although the fact he became a father just a couple of months ago has surely played a part.
It has long been a mystery to many - and most of the messages I have received on Twitter over the past few hours are testament to this - that a young man could fail to enjoy the money, the adulation and the fame that have come his way due to his unparalleled ability to ride a motorcycle.
Sure, his earnings over the past five years alone will enable him to head home without needing to earn another penny for the rest of his life but I can assure you that the attention is something he has genuinely never been comfortable with.
His unease in front of the cameras and microphones has created an uncomfortable relationship with the press and, by extension, the many thousands of fans who criticise him for a "lack of personality".
It has long been a bugbear of Casey, who has no interest in celebrity culture, that he could not be appreciated purely for his riding ability and in his surprise news conference he made reference to those who have constantly questioned him throughout the highs and lows of his career.
Having left Australia as a 14-year-old, when his parents sold everything they had and moved to Europe to support his fledgling career, he has spent the last 12 years living in the spotlight, under pressure and occasionally under attack.
He has grown up away from home, often away from his loved ones and, for the past two months, away from his newborn daughter. Of course, many people do this... but only because they have to.
Casey has handled the pressure in his own way, often making mistakes but learning to cope every day in front of the unforgiving focus of a camera lens without benefiting from the lessons of the "normal life" he so craves.
In November he will throw his suitcase down at his remote farm in deepest New South Wales and, for the first time in his life, know that he does not have to pack it again until he decides to do so.
That moment may never come, or it may be the moment that he rediscovers his love for the only thing he knows.
In the meantime, whatever your thoughts about Stoner the rider or Stoner the man, it cannot be denied that it is the courage and the conviction of character that has taken him to two world titles already - and makes him a favourite to take a third this season - that sees him walk away from MotoGP at the peak of his powers.