Casey Stoner injury: MotoGP star robbed of fitting finale

By Steve ParrishBBC motorcycling commentator

So, that is it. Casey Stoner will not retire as MotoGP champion at the end of the season

I am so disappointed and it is terrible news for the sport that injury has again robbed us of a fitting finale to a great man's career.

Because allow me to be frank: Casey Stoner is the fastest man I've ever seen on two wheels.

I have never seen anyone able to push a motorbike harder.

And what is more, when he has gone at the end of the season all his rivals will come out and tell you the same thing.

I have lost count of the number of times I have stood in awe watching him from the side of the track as he goes through a corner at a speed that just doesn't seem possible.

He has an incredible talent and it seems so wrong that we are losing him at the age of just 26.

If he does come back to race in Australia in October and at the last race of the season in Valencia, I urge anyone who has never seen him live to go and watch if they can. He is a special, special talent who will leave a huge hole in the sport.

But he is being sensible by the sound of it. He is retiring at the end of the season so what is the point in doing yourself damage?

Unless you've ever ridden one of these bikes it's hard to imagine just how physically demanding they are to ride. You need to be at 100% and if you do have an injury you end up overworking other parts of your body.

It's absolutely exhausting.

Like most old racers, I still limp about on a cold morning thanks to all the injuries I picked up and there were many times when I rode when I shouldn't have.

I've cut off plaster casts to get back on my bike and Stoner came fourth last week with a busted up ankle. But he is doing the right thing.

It just shows the limits these guys operate at. In a Formula 1 car that mistake would have meant a flat spot on a tyre and maybe a loss of a few tenths of a second.

On a MotoGP bike, it's a broken ankle and the end of a championship.

And what of the title race? Jorge Lorenzo is in the box seat but it is definitely not over yet.

Let's not forget he lost part of his finger at the end of last season and had to miss a few races as Stoner went on to take the title.

The same could easily happen this year, causing that lead to vanish, so Jorge has only got to look down at his hand to get a reminder of how fragile his lead is.

This championship is not sewn up yet. Dani Pedrosa is under the radar and you cannot discount him.

Lorenzo is in a tricky situation. When you are leading a championship by a relatively narrow margin you need to keep on your toes and stay out of trouble.

You cannot afford to make any mistakes but you cannot cruise around on these bikes.

Whoever wins the title this year will deserve it - but we will all be wondering what could have been for Casey Stoner.

Steve's Brno predictions:

1. Dani Pedrosa 2. Jorge Lorenzo 3. Andrea Dovizioso

Steve Parrish was talking to BBC Sport's Tom Rostance

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