It was no fairytale for the 27-year-old Aussie, who admitted before the race that he didn’t want to be there and afterwards that he was riding scared of further injuring his ankle. 

But he still managed third after climbing from 16th position into a podium place.

He said he had “no long term thoughts” after his motorcycling career wrapped up. 

“I have a lot of possibilities in the future but nothing that I’m willing to decide and stick to now,” he said. “I just want to take some time off, look at some options and see where life takes us.”

“His “us” is wife Adriana and daughter Alessandra, and while most motor sport pundits are tipping he’ll switch from two wheels to four in Australia’s V8 Supercars his pit crew’s message on a  sign at the end of the race indicated his immediate plans – “Gone fishing”.

Before the race, Stoner’s interview with BBC on the grid was telling.

“To be honest, I don’t really want to be here,” said Stoner, with his wife holding his umbrella rather than a scantily clad Spanish grid girl. “This isn’t the conditions… I didn’t really want to end my career in. This track in particular in these conditions is probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”

The newly laid surface was wet but with a dry line, leaving racers in a quandry about whether to brave it on slick tyres or play it safe with wets – it was no decision for Stoner, who had no intention of taking chances in his final race.

“It’s taken a long time to dry, there’s certain parts that are not dry,” he said. “There’s some big risks that in the past maybe I would have taken with tyre selction, but I can’t afford to take that right now. It’s dissappointing.”

Stoner started with conservative wet tyres, but when they left him off the speed in the opening stages, he pitted and changed to slicks, re-enterting the race in 16th place. 

With riders flying off the track and his speed increasing with every lap, the two-time world champion  climbed his way through the field like he’d done so many times before and took his podium place with a few laps to go.

After the race, he was satisfied and relieved, telling one interviewer a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. 

“We knew we took the easy way out,” he said of the tyre selection. “Honestly I’m scared of crashing. I’m scared of injuring my foot any worse in these last races.”

He said third was “fantastic … considering the way it was looking toward the start of the race.”

“Big thanks to everybody, big thanks to my team, all my supproters over all the years. I suppose it could be a lot worse way to go out.”

Images via Getty