AUSTRALIAN CASEY STONER will be sidelined for the next three MotoGP events to help him overcome a mystery virus that has plagued his performance in recent races.
The former World Champion has struggled to overcome bouts of fatigue since the Catalunya Grand Prix in Barcelona, where a visibly distressed Stoner had difficulty dismounting his motorcycle.
After medical testing (on Ducati's prompting) to determine the cause of his ailment, the Aussie ace was found to be suffering from a mild form of anaemia.
Now, acting on the advice of doctors in Australia, Stoner will sit out the next three races of the championship, ending his challenge for a second World Championship.
?After five extremely difficult races due to my health, I returned to Australia to visit the sports doctors who have looked after me for many years,? he said.
"We have taken the difficult decision not to contest the next three rounds of the championship, to allow my body time to recover from the recent stress.
"The doctors believe that during the Barcelona race I was suffering from a virus, and that I subsequently pushed my body too hard, leading to problems that have caused my fatigue since then. The doctors are continuing with many tests to try to understand these problems and make sure it does not happen again."
Stoner will be replaced by Ducati satellite rider Mika Kallio, who was granted a temporary release by Pramac Racing.
The Finn said he was delighted to have the opportunity to jump onboard a factory bike, although he acknowledged the circumstances which granted him the chance were far from ideal.
"When I took the call I could hardly believe it. I am proud to be racing the next three events with the Ducati team,? he said.
"Obviously I'm not expecting to suddenly be a second quicker, because our bikes are very similar to the official machines, but I hope to be able to pick up some good results for the team.
"I would particularly like to thank [Pramac team boss] Paolo Campinoti, who has allowed me to enjoy this incredible opportunity. It will be a real honour for me. Nonetheless I would like to send my best wishes to Casey and I hope to see him back out on track as soon as possible."