Today, five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo announced his retirement in a press conference held ahead of this weekend’s MotoGP season finale in Valencia, Spain. It was an emotional moment for the Repsol Honda rider, who has had an accomplished career stretching over 18 seasons in Grand Prix racing.
“I always thought that there are four significant days for a rider,” Lorenzo said. “The first is your first race, the second your first win and then your first World Championship – not everyone can win a World Championship but some of us made it – and then the day you retire. As you all are imagining here, I am here to announce that this day has arrived for me. This will be my last race in MotoGP and after this race I will retire as a professional racer.”
It was a tough year for Lorenzo. In addition to trying to get comfortable on the Honda RC213V, he was plagued with injuries and found his motivation to be waning.
“Unfortunately, injuries came very soon to play an important role in my results and performance,” Lorenzo said. “So I wasn’t able to be in normal physical condition to be fast or competitive. This, plus a bike that didn’t feel natural to me, gave me a lot of problems to be competitive like I want to be.”
Lorenzo still had hope that things would turn around with hard work and the help of the team, but unfortunately, two big crashes and broken vertebrae delivered a reality check. “I never lost patience and keep working with the team thinking it was probably only a matter of time until everything came into the right place,” Lorenzo explained. “Then when I was starting to see some light in the tunnel, the nasty crash at the Montmelo test happened. And then some days later I crashed again in this ugly Assen crash, which you know the consequences that created.
“I have to admit when I was rolling in the gravel and I stood up, I thought to myself ‘OK Jorge, is this really worth it after what I’ve achieved, to keep suffering… I am done with it. I don’t want to race anymore.’”
He did, however, take some time before making his final decision on whether or not to hang up his helmet, but his mind was made up after the penultimate race at Malaysia.
“As I said before, after the Assen crash, the possibility to retire was there, but I didn’t want to make an early decision and wanted to delay my decision as much as possible,” Lorenzo continued. “So that’s why I wanted to go to see if I could regain again the motivation, or start feeling a little bit better with the bike. But I couldn’t find this motivation and after the Malaysian Grand Prix I made this decision and communicated it to (Repsol Honda Team Manager) Alberto (Puig).”
Although it is a bittersweet departure after such a tough season, Lorenzo said he looks back on his tenure in Grand Prix with gratitude.
“Speaking a little bit more for happiness, coming back to my beautiful and successful career, I have always said that I’m a very lucky guy. Sometimes I feel a little bit like this movie ‘One In A Billion’ that narrates the life of an Indian basketball player in the NBA, because I raced against unbelievable riders of my generation and any of them could have achieved what I achieved. They weren’t as successful as I am, and especially most of them didn’t even arrive into the World Championship and had to go back to work in normal jobs. So I always felt very grateful.
“It’s true that I’ve been always a hard worker and made a lot of sacrifice but without being in the right place at the right time and especially without the help of many people, who helped me to achieve what I achieved, it would not have been possible.”
At the moment, the focus for Lorenzo is the final MotoGP race of his career. “Well, I always said that life is not only about bikes,” he said, answering a question about his future. “There are many things to do in life. Actually, we all work in this sport, but billions of people are working in other things. I didn’t think too much (about it). I would like to take some long vacations this winter, somewhere sunny with beaches, and then I’ll start planning my next chapter.”