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Jorge Lorenzo Announces Retirement from Professional Racing

The final race on the MotoGP calendar this year will occur this Sunday at Valencia. This will also be Jorge Lorenzo’s final race as a professional rider. Lorenzo’s announcement occurred earlier today at a special press conference called by the rider.

Before reading Jorge’s full statement below, you should note that there is already talk about Johann Zarco taking over his seat on the Repsol Honda team alongside Marc Marquez next year. Zarco has rode impressively on a satellite Honda as a replacement for Takaaki Nakagami, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Here is the full statement from Jorge Lorenzo at the press conference this morning:

“Thank you for attending this press conference, it really means a lot to me, it makes me very happy.

“I always thought that there are four significant days for a rider. The first is you 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 imagine 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.

“Everything started when I was three years old, almost 30 years of complete dedication to my sport. People who work with me know how perfectionist I am, how much energy and intensity I have always put into my sport.

“This level of perfectionism requires a lot of motivation, that is why after nine years at Yamaha – so wonderful, probably the best years that I enjoyed in my career – I felt that I needed a change, if I wanted to keep this full commitment to my sport.

“That’s why I wanted to move to Ducati, it gave me a big boost of motivation and even though the results were very bad, I used the motivation to not give up and keep fighting until I achieved this beautiful Mugello victory in front of all the Ducati fans.

“Then later, when I signed to Honda, you gave me another big boost because I achieved something all riders dream of, to become HRC rider for Repsol Honda.

“Unfortunately, injuries came very soon to play an important part in my results and performance, 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. Anyway, 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.

“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.

“But then I came back home and decided to give it a try. I didn’t want to make any early decision. So I kept going. But the truth is from that moment the hill became so high and so big for me that I was not able to find the motivation, the patience to keep trying to climb this mountain.

“You all know, I love to ride, I love competition, I love this sport but above all I love to win. So I realised at some point this was not possible, in this short time with Honda. So…. [applause] at this stage of my career it was impossible for me to keep the motivation and my goal that I put into my mind at the beginning of the season was not realistic, in a short time.

“So I have to say I feel very sorry for Honda. Especially Alberto, who was the one who gave me this opportunity. I remember very well that day in Montmelo test, one of the first meetings I had with him, to start chatting about my move to Honda. And I said to him, ‘Alberto don’t make a mistake, signing the wrong rider! Trust me and you will not regret it’.

“Sadly, I have to say, I disappointed him. I disappointed Honda. Takeo [Yokoyama], [Tetsuhiro] Kuwata and Nomura-san [HRC president]. However I think this is the best decision for me and for the team because Honda and Jorge Lorenzo cannot fight to just score some points or even top five or podium, that I think could be possible with time. I think we are both winners that need to fight to win.

“So speaking a little bit more for happiness, coming back to my beautiful and successful career I 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. [but] 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.

“That’s why I’m also here to thank everyone for their help, especially Carmelo and Dorna for all the good treatment they always gave to me and especially to make this sport so great.

“Also all the factories that believe in me and signed me – Derbi, Aprilia, Yamaha, Ducati, Honda. Especially Giampeiro Sacchi, Gigi Dall’Igna, Lin Jarvis and Alberto Puig.

“Then obviously my mother for bringing me into this world. My father to transmit me this love for the bike and all help that he did. Juanito [mechanic] for his loyalty, staying with me all my career. My fans, my fan club, all the fans of MotoGP in general, who keep this sport as it is today.

“This is it. Thank you all for all the help. It was a pleasure to work with you and with all my heart I wish you all the best, all the luck, professionally and personally. Thanks a lot.”


See more of MD’s great photography: Instagram

49 Comments

  1. Curt says:

    Lorenzo is a great talent and I hate to see him go. Say what you’d like about his personality (nobody’s perfect – over the years I’ve become increasingly a fan of the sport rather than a fan of the rider, and I’m much happier for it), he had a particular talent which, on a good day, was incredible to watch. So many great racing moments! He’ll be missed.

  2. Patrick Doyle says:

    It’s worth looking at the riders he was competing against during is MotoGP career to truly elevate the value of those 3 titles.
    It could be said that MotoGP isn’t as competitive now as it was then, as Jorge’s star was brightest when Rossi, Stoner and Pedrosa were at their peak. He’s also the only rider to take a championship off Marquez, and I’m not sure who the next one will be.
    Running against the most popular rider the sport has ever seen, and winning titles when he was in the same garage, took a lot of guts. I’m sure we’d all like to be the most popular champion, but Jorge had to display singlemindedness like no-one else.
    He has been very articulate, especially when things weren’t going for him at Ducati. When he finally turned a corner with them (pun intended…), it was joyous.
    His Assen crash was the final straw. It’s great that he’s retiring young and healthy (I believe his injuries are recoverable). He has nothing left to prove, and it was painful to see him struggle this year. He knew what another crash might mean, and it wasn’t worth it to continue.

    • Dave says:

      It’s interesting that we’re thinking of Jorge retiring young at 32 as that’s actually a pretty normal age for retirement. Perhaps Valentino’s marathon career has skewed our perception.

  3. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    To me, seems like some bad timing for him over the past couple of seasons.

    He was floundering on the Ducati team when the bike was not yet to his liking, with 2017 sub-par as well as the first part of 2018.
    Then, the ergonomically changed fuel tank suddenly had him riding well again during 2018.
    However, during the season-plus of floundering, he shops around for another team and lands the Honda ride for 2019 about the time the ergonomic fuel tank solves his Ducati problem.
    So, just when he gets his Ducati dialed for himself to the point that he can finally ride it as he’s capable of, it’s off to the Honda team and yet another new bike to sort out.

    The 2019 Honda RC213V proves to be a bigger disaster for him than the Ducati was, and everyone was calling him washed-up when he first raced the Ducati to so-so finishes.
    He started on the Honda with poor results, then improved a bit to the point that I thought he was seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, and then has a couple of crashes with a big one that sidelined him for a while.
    It’s during this downtime that he decides it’s no longer worth the risk.

    Too bad.
    I wonder how it would have gone had he stayed on Ducati once they hit on a combination that worked for him.

    • TimC says:

      I’m sure most observers are wondering that. But let’s not forget he didn’t go shopping around like a prima donna because he thought the Duc was crap – in fact, in retrospect it’s become clear he really was working hard – Ducati definitely made things pretty clear. In the end I fault their behavior more than his.

  4. david novick says:

    My favorite racer, too. No one can match Jorge’s ability to lay down lap after lap at 99.99% of a machine’s capability. Truly nearest to perfections I’ve ever seen. I do believe that other’s can ride through problems and deal with adversity better than Jorge, Rossi and Marquez, for instance, but when Jorge was ON, and the conditions were right – no one could touch him. Enjoy your life! You deserve respect, peace, and happiness.

  5. SharkGuitar says:

    Good man and a great champion.
    Good luck on whatever endeavors you pursue from now on.

  6. J Wilson says:

    Lorenzo was at his best on the Yamaha, an almost hydraulic smoothness to his laps. The bucking bronc of a Ducati, and then the bull-rider’s Honda (with development understandably tilted towards Marquez) did not suit him nearly as well, and with the slew of hard injuries, it’s no wonder he felt it was time to hang up his leathers. And I’m very happy that he was sensible enough to walk away . . . . . . while he still could walk.

    He was always his own man, with a certain self-assured center, he kept his own counsel. Five World Championships are quite the record, and I really hope he enjoys his new life.

  7. fred says:

    Jorge has been my favorite rider in MotoGP for years. Great rider, great racer, straight-shooter, loyal, etc. With the accumulation of injuries over the years, the severe recent injuries, and a recalcitrant bike, his retirement makes sense. I admire people who choose to live life honorably on their own terms, and Lorenzo fully seems to be one of those. All the best in the future, Jorge!

  8. Dman says:

    Not a huge fan, but he is certainly one of the all-time great riders, and I think the way he handled this retirement is professional and honest. But … if he had stuck it out with Ducati for another year, I think he’d be well ahead of Dovi in the points, and maybe even challenging Marc more closely. But … we’ll never know, will we?

  9. Todd says:

    I think we would have seen more retire if they were on the Honda, Cal’s next. To bad he didn’t take a satellite Yammy, I think things would have been different. Regardless a very respectful career and has beaten all the great riders of his generation.

    • Jeremy says:

      Cal might be on a Repsol Honda next year.

      • mickey says:

        I certainly dont think Zarco is the answer to Honda’s question. He is another Lorenzo like rider, unable to ride around the Hondas weakness.

        Zarco would do well on a sattelite Yamaha or Suzuki, but the Honda will only leave him frustrated like he was on the KTM.

        • Curly says:

          Don’t know about that. Zarco was doing very well on the “unrideable” Honda at Sepang and headed for a likely top ten finish before he got punted off the track. He was ahead of Cal Crashlow all weekend too. A good result this weekend might put him in contention for the ride.

          • mickey says:

            A top ten with 2 crashing out in front of him, so a top 12 maybe.

            We will see. Zarco has not shown that he can ride a non Yamaha. If Crutchlow and Lorenzo both say the bike is difficult to ride, and they do, that does not bode well for Zarco.

            I watch all the races, all the interviews, and have yet to see Zarco smiling or happy since he started riding the Honda.

        • Hot Dog says:

          Mickey, do you like your crow rare or medium? I’m betting you’re going to get a big serving.

          • mickey says:

            How’s that Dog? You think Zarco will be challenging for podiums any time soon?

          • Curly says:

            This afternoon Zarco was only 0.395 behind Marc’s time in FP2 and still ahead of veteran Honda man Crutchy so yeah, we’ll see.

          • mickey says:

            Ahead of Lorenzo too, but still down in 10th right? Lets see if he transfers directly to Q2 tomorrow.

            Year before last on the Yamaha he was battling Vinales and Dovi, like Quatararo is doing now on tne Yammie.

            If he can beat Mir and the Espargaro Bros I will start believing he and tbe Honda might make a good fit…maybe.

          • Hot Dog says:

            Ah heck Mickey, I’m sure hoping JZo comes to terms with the 213. He’s not afraid to swap paint and he’s damned hungry now, so I’m hoping. This isn’t the first time my mouth wrote a check my arse may have to cash. Does crow taste like chicken?

            Think JLo would test for Yamaha?

          • mickey says:

            I honestly hope Zarco does well too, and maybe Honda’s 2020 bike will be easier to ride. It may work out in the end. As it is it’s either the Honda or testing for Yamaha, or going back to moto2 for Johan. I’m sure he’d rather stay in MotoGP, but if he can’t ride the Honda and ride it well, he will end up with an ulcer lol.

            Also Honda doesn’t want a maybe top 10 they want a maybe podium finisher riding their second bike. Someone to fight with and hold off the likes of Vinales and Quatararo and Rins. Someone like Pedrosa used to be before his last season.

          • mickey says:

            Well, Zarco didnt go directly into Q2, didnt go fast enough to transfer from Q1 to Q2 but he did qualify ahead of Lorenzo and 1 of the Espagaro brothers. He’ll be starting 13th from the 5th row tomorrow.

          • Jeremy says:

            Yeah, my Zarco limb proved to be pretty thin. That is the bike Marquez won last year’s championship on, and I think he has to show more than what Taka can do on the bike.

            Still, Honda has a seat to fill in between contract season, and Zarco is probably the best option unless Honda wants to take a chance on a young gun. I personally think Zarco should go to LCR while Cal gets a shot at Repsol if the seat plays out for Zarco.

          • mickey says:

            Last I read, Marquez’s little brothers name is being bandied about, but he’s not ready for a factory GP ride. Maybe a sattelite squad.

            I think Cal might be a fill in for 1 year until all riders are available in 2021.

          • mickey says:

            People already hate Honda because they are so successful, and they hate Mark Marquez for the same reason, if they hired another Marquez, how hated would they all be? lol.

          • Jeremy says:

            I read that Alex was actually the most likely candidate for the Repsol seat, though I find that rumor hard to believe. You don’t win a Moto3 and Moto2 championship by not being worthy of consideration, but the guys he could never really beat in Moto2 are already in MotoGP.

          • Motoman says:

            I always thought Alex’s weight/size was a disadvantage when riding the 600cc bikes. The bump to 765cc seems to have helped him quite a bit… or maybe he just got better?. But I am interested in seeing him race a moto-gp bike because I think his race-craft has matured. Could be a potent team mate for his brother.

          • mickey says:

            Well, that was ugly. What a way to go out, being clotheslined from the back by a KTM. Kinda ironic. Hope he is okay.

            At any rate not the ride Zarco needed to impress the brass at Honda.

          • Hot Dog says:

            That bucking snorting Honda is enough to give a fella heart burn. That was a horrific sight to see that crashing bike slide into JZo. I hope he’s ok.

            Rumor has Alex going to Repsol Honda. I think that’s a really bad idea because nepotism rarely works. One of them might get disciplined and the other one could have hurt feelings. An old rule in the construction world is you don’t work with or for friends, relatives or neighbors.

          • mickey says:

            They say it’s hard to ride, but MM makes it look so easy. Every once in awhile it catches him out, but the other times he looks as smooth as Lorenzo. What talent that man has.

            Wonder what will happen next year. Right now MM is riding so much better than the others…18 races 17 podiums (either first or second) and the race he didn’t finish on the podium he had a 3 1/2 second lead before crashing. That is an unbelievable season.

            If he wins the WC next year he will tie with Rossi for titles. Hard to believe in such a short time. Rossi seemed so dominant when he was in his prime.

          • Jeremy says:

            Well, it’s rumor no longer. Alex Marquez gets Jorge’s seat.

          • mickey says:

            wow, if I were Cal I’d be non too happy. He deserved the seat for at least his last year. Amazing.

            Well, this will be interesting to say the least. Wonder if he will be at testing tomorrow?

          • Jeremy says:

            Yeah, I didn’t really expect that to happen. I thought they’d give Cal a crack at it for his last year of GP and put either Zarco or someone young and promising on the LCR seat along side Nakagami to fight it out and get results that prove they deserve the seat after Cal retires.

            I agree that Cal earned a chance. He’s been the only guy that has been at least sporadically fast on the Honda for several years now. And while “sporadically” may not sound good, I’d say it is quite an achievement having accomplished that in the company of Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo.

            I also saw where Avinitia got an “improved” deal from Ducati for support and equipment, so I guess they are trying to reel Zarco in with that carrot.

          • mickey says:

            I read that Zarco turned down the Avinta deal.

  10. Fred N says:

    Thanks George for your commitment with thrills, excitement, and the spills of MotoGP.
    Better to go out before your pushed out (publicly anyway) and live off the cash through appearance fee’s and sponsored ad’s. I don’t think you’ll be looking for a paying job.
    Better than pressing on in Private Teams on non 10 ten bikes, and becoming more injured.
    We don’t need any more Rainey type injuries or deaths, trying to prove your still a young and silly alien.
    We’ll see you in the Paddock interview’s like Mick Doonan and the rest for years to come.
    Well done, Champ.

  11. bmbktmracer says:

    Those championship seasons on the Yamaha were demonstrations of riding perfection. He leaves as one of the legends of the sport.

  12. Kevin2 says:

    I had the pleasure to watch him race 3 times at Indy. I got to meet him in the airport there the year he won. I have never seen a rider approach his smoothness – it was jaw dropping to see in person. As all others have said here, it was pure enjoyment watching you race – here’s wishing you a magnificent life. Hip, Hip – JORGE!!!!!

  13. Tim says:

    Sadly, Lorenzo’s star faded fast. I really thought he would challenge Marquez once he signed with Honda. Who would have ever dreamt he would announce his retirement before Rossi?

    I would love to see Honda give Rossi a one year contract and let him go out on a more competitive bike. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him retire after this season as well.

    • Dave says:

      The Honda is not a more competitive bike, at least not with anyone other than Marquez riding it. There are 3 yamahas, 3 Ducatis, and a Suzuki between Marquez and the next highest ranked Honda (Crutchlow) in the season standings this year.

      Rossi will finish on the Yamaha.

      • xLaYN says:

        +1 to this.
        Maybe this is one of those cases where optimizing for an incredible player comes at the expense of having something nobody else can use.

      • Tim says:

        The Yamaha is lacking the power of the Honda and the Ducati. Rossi was able to overcome that when he was younger, and when there was nobody of Marquez’s ability to compete against. I’m not making my comment to take away from Marquez’s talent or diminish what he’s accomplished, I’d just like to see Rossi get one last ride with competitive power. I also think there’s something to what xLaYN is saying. Some bikes are developed with specific people in mind, and they don’t fit the needs of the other team members very well. We saw that when Honda screwed over Hayden after his championship season, by developing a bike for Pedrosa that didn’t work for Hayden.

  14. carl says:

    Never been a fan but give him credit when deserved. He’s been a champion and has nothing to prove anymore. Enjoy the retirement Jorge.

  15. Jeremy says:

    And boom goes the dynamite.

    I think we all saw this coming. Congrats to Jorge on an exceptional career. He was definitely one of the greats.

    • mickey says:

      I agree Jeremy. We all knew what he was accomplishing with Honda couldn’t go on.

      Was a pleasure to see him ride the Yamaha. So smooth, so fast, so efficient in the saddle.

      Here’s to a great retirement.

  16. Brinskee says:

    Thanks for the show Jorge. I often use your story when explaining to my teams that preparation, planning, strategy and grit pays off. Not everyone loved your approach or personality, but you stayed true to yourself. To that, I enthusiastically applaud you. Well done. Enjoy the rest of your life, and thanks for the inspiration.

  17. A great career and I’m glad to see Jorge make this decision for himself after honest reflection. I hope that he will remain involved as an ambassador for the sport.

  18. Curly says:

    The risk over reward was too much to stand in Jorge’s mind and that makes it the right time to leave the field. Without possibility of a change to a suitable bike to ride like the Suzuki or Yamaha which agree with his riding style it made no sense to stay on the Honda and perhaps suffer a paralyzing crash. Farewell to a great rider and five time champion.

  19. Neil says:

    Well done Jorge. It’s been years of enjoyment watching you race.

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