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Lorenzo announces retirement from MotoGP

Daniel Herrero

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Friday 15th November, 2019 - 6:44am

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Jorge Lorenzo at his retirement announcement pic: MotoGP.com

Three-time premier class world champion Jorge Lorenzo has announced his retirement after a shocking first season with Honda.

This weekend’s season-ending Valencia MotoGP will be Lorenzo’s last as a rider, after 12 years and 202 starts so far.

The 32-year-old won the MotoGP title in 2010, 2012, and 2015, but has struggled with injury even as far back as his final months with Ducati in 2018 and has a best finish of just 11th this season.

He cited those injuries and an inability to ride Honda’s RC213V in a ‘natural’ way as the reason for his decision, revealing that the crash at Assen in June nearly caused him to retire then.

“I always thought there are four significant days in the career of a rider; your first race, your first win, your first championship, and then the day you retire,” said Lorenzo at a special press conference at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

“Well, as you may imagine, I’m here to tell you this day has arrived for me. I want to announce this will be my last race in MotoGP, and that at the end of this race I will retire from professional racing.”

“Unfortunately, injuries came soon to play an important role in my season, being unable to ride in normal physical conditions. This, plus a bike that never felt natural to me, makes races very difficult.

“Anyway, I never lost the patience and I kept fighting, just thinking that was simply a matter of time and that after all things would get into the right place.

“But, as I started to see some light I had this bad crash at the Montmelo (Barcelona) test, and some weeks later that ugly one in Assen.

“At that point I had to admit, that when I stopped rolling into the gravel, the first thought that came into my mind was ‘What am I doing here? Is this really worth it? I’m done with it.’

“Some days later after reflecting a lot about my life and career I decided to give it a try. I wanted to be sure I was not making an early decision.

“The truth is from that crash, the hill became too high for me, and even if I try I couldn’t find the motivation and patience to be able to keep climbing it.

“You know, I love this sport, I love to ride, but above all things I love to win. I understood, that if I’m not able to fight for something big, to fight for the title or at least to fight for victories I cannot find the motivation to keep going specially at this stage of my career.

“I realised that my goal with Honda, at least in a short time, was not realistic.

“I have to say I feel very sorry for Honda, specially for Alberto (Puig, Team Manager), who really was the one who trusted me and gave me that opportunity.

“I remember that day in Montmelo (last year) when we meet and I told him ‘Don’t make a mistake signing the wrong rider Alberto, trust me and you will not regret it’.

“Sadly, I have to say that I disappointed him, so I did to Takeo (Yokoyama, Technical Manager), (General Manager Race Operations, Tetsuhiro) Kuwata, (HRC President Hiroshi) Nomura San and all my team, who I have to say they always treat me in an exceptional way.

“However, I really feel this is the best decision for me and for the team, Jorge Lorenzo and Honda cannot be here just to score some points.”

See below for full speech

Lorenzo’s crash in practice at Assen ultimately caused him to miss four races, including the Dutch TT.

He also sat out the same number in the back end of 2018 after breaking his left wrist, although initially diagnosed with just bruising, when a mechanical failure caused him to be thrown from his Ducati in Thailand.

The Spaniard then broke the same wrist again, although the injury was technically unrelated, while riding a dirt bike and missed one of the two pre-season tests.

In this year’s Barcelona post-race test, his Honda ended up on top of an air fence when he crashed, before the spill at Assen that caused fractured vertebrae.

At Phillip Island, late last month, Lorenzo finished more than a minute behind race-winning Repsol Honda team-mate, Marc Marquez.

While his career has come to a disappointing end, Lorenzo is the only rider to date to have denied Marquez a championship since #93’s debut in MotoGP in 2013.

That was during Lorenzo’s time with Yamaha, where he won all three of his premier class titles, before winning three races in his second season with Ducati after struggling through his first, in 2017.

Lorenzo’s career has currently yielded 47 premier class race wins and 114 podiums, as well as two 250cc world championships.

Practice in Valencia starts tonight (AEDT).

Jorge Lorenzo’s retirement speech in full

I was three years old when everything started. Almost 30 years of complete dedication to this sport, my sport. The ones who worked with me, know how much of a perfectionist I am, how much hard work and intensity I put into this. Being like this requires a high level of motivation, that’s why after nine unforgettable years with Yamaha (without a doubt the most glorious of my career) I felt I needed a change if I wanted to maintain this high commitment to my sport. Moving to Ducati gave me that big boost I needed and even though the results were bad I used that extra motivation as fuel to not give up and finally win that special race at Mugello, in front of all the Ducati fans. After that, when I signed for Honda I got similar feeling, achieving one of the dreams of every rider: to be an official HRC factory rider.

Unfortunately, injuries came soon to play an important role in my season, being unable to ride in normal physical conditions. This, plus a bike that never felt natural to me, makes races very difficult. Anyway, I never lost the patience and I kept fighting, just thinking that was simply a matter of time and that after all things would get into the right place. But, as I started to see some light I had this bad crash at the Montmelo test, and some weeks later that ugly one in Assen. At that point I had to admit, that when I stopped rolling into the gravel, the first thought that came into my mind was ‘What am I doing here? Is this really worth it? I’m done with it.’ Some days later after reflecting a lot about my life and career I decided to give it a try. I wanted to be sure I was not making an early decision.

The truth is from that crash, the hill became too high for me, and even if I try I couldn’t find the motivation and patience to be able to keep climbing it. You know, I love this sport, I love to ride, but above all things I love to win. I understood, that if I’m not able to fight for something big, to fight for the title or at least to fight for victories I cannot find the motivation to keep going specially at this stage of my career. I realised that my goal with Honda, at least in a short time, was not realistic. I have to say I feel very sorry for Honda, specially for Alberto, who really was the one who trusted me and gave me that opportunity. I remember that day in Montmelo when we meet and I told him ‘Don’t make a mistake signing the wrong rider Alberto, trust me and you will not regret it’. Sadly, I have to say that I disappointed him, so I did to Takeo, Kuwata, Nomura San and all my team, who I have to say they always treat me in an exceptional way. However, I really feel this is the best decision for me and for the team, Jorge Lorenzo and Honda cannot be here just to score some points.

Coming back to my beautiful and successful career, I have always said I’m a very lucky guy. Sometimes I feel a bit like the movie One in a Billion, the documentary about the only Indian who ever came to the NBA. During my career I raced against dozens and dozens of exceptional riders of my generation, some of them even more talented than I am. Some of them have not been as successful as me, but specially most of them did not even make it to the World Championship, having to go to work in normal jobs. That’s why I feel so lucky to be able to achieve much more than I ever imagined I could achieve when I first started. And yes, it’s true, I always worked very hard, but without being at the right place at the right time, and especially without the help of many people who worked with me through my career, would have been impossible for me to achieve what I have done.

That’s why I would like to thank sincerely all of this people. Specially Carmelo and Dorna for the treatment and for making MotoGP so great. Derbi, Aprilia, Yamaha, Ducati, Honda, specially Giampiero Sachi, Gigi Dall’Igna, Lin Jarvis and Alberto Puig. Obviously my mother for bringing me to this world. My father, for showing me the passion for this sport and all the sacrifice he has made for me during these years. My fans and my fan club for the unconditional love through all these years. Thank you to all the people of work with me as a personal team, with specially mention to Albert Valera, for being always honest and loyal. So this is it, with all my heart, I really wish you all the best, professionally and personally. Thanks for all.

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