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Pictorial: Loris Capirossi

Charting some of the defining moments in a career that spanned 22 years

On Thursday 1st September 2011 Loris Capirossi announced his retirement from motorcycle racing in a heartfelt and emotional press conference.

After racing in Grand Prixs for 22 seasons Capirex will put an end to his impressive career, which has seen the Italian amass 29 wins, 41 pole positions and 99 podiums riding on an illustrious list of bikes including; a Honda 125, Honda 250, Aprilia 250, Yamaha 500, Honda 500, Ducati 990, Suzuki 800 and Ducati 800.

1990 - 1991

1990 & 91 125GP champion

In 1990 Loris Capirossi became the youngest ever world champion, at the time, as he went on to win the 125GP title in his first attempt on board an AGV Pileri Corse Honda. Aged 17 he took three wins and eight podiums to claim the championship – although the first sign of controversy as he is ‘helped’ by other Italian riders in the final round as they ganged up on his championship rivals to deny them points.

Riding with the number one plate in 1991, Loris’ second year in the 125 class saw even more success on the way to defending his title. From the 13 round season he only finished off the rostrum once and finished with five race wins and 12 podiums.

1992 - 1994

7 wins in three years of 250GPs between 92 - 94

Capirossi moved up to the 250GPs for the 1992 season, riding on a year-old bike his best finish would come in the final round at Kyalami with fifth.

The following year was more competitive on the Honda 250 as Loris took his first 250GP rostrum finish at Salzburgring, following that with another second at Hockenheim and third successive podium, but this time he would take his first win. Taking a further two more victories before the season ended, he would narrowly miss his first title finishing four points behind Tetsuya Harada.

1994 saw a similar amount of success for the Italian, taking one more win than the previous season. He finished third in the table behind Max Biaggi and Tadayuki Okada.

1995 - 1996

On the Wayne Rainey run Yamaha team in 1996

Capirossi stepped up to the 500cc Grand Prix in 1995 riding in the premier class on a Marlboro sponsored Team Pileri Honda NSR500. Over the season he often qualified better than he finished, a series of fourth place finishes in the middle of the year would be his best until he ended the championship on a high taking third at the last round. He finished as top rookie with sixth place overall behind Mick Doohan, Daryl Beattie, Luca Cadalora, Alex Criville and Shinichi Ito.

Signing with Wayne Rainey’s Marlboro Yamaha team for the 1996 season, the early part of his campaign was plagued with retirement, as he only finished twice out of the first seven races. However of the two scoring rides Loris was on the podium in the second round with third. He wouldn’t stand on the rostrum until the final race at Eastern Creek. where he took his first 500cc victory.

1997 - 1998

The 'pass' that decided the 1998 250GP title

Dropping back for a second stint on the quarter litres after two years in the premier class, this time as an Italian on an Italian bike after signing for Aprilia. The first year back, 1997, saw only three third place finishes for Capirossi.

1998 saw the third of Loris Capirossi’s championship wins taking the 250cc title but only after being involved in one of the most controversial racing incidents ever.

The incident goes like this; title rival Tetsuya Harada leads into the final corner of the final race of the season in Argentina and would win the championship if he remains in that position. Knowing the title is slipping away from him, Capirossi makes a desperate lunge from way back and knocks Harada off his bike. Capirossi manages to stay on and finish second to win the title.

Aprilia bosses are not amused by the incident and the Italian’s questionable behaviour that saw him black flagged at Mugello for dangerous riding, so they don’t renew his contract for the 1999 season. He switches to Honda machinery and finishes third behind Valentino Rossi and Tohru Ukawa taking three victories.

2000 - 2002

2002: two-stroke NSR500 against the four-strokes

Returning to the 500 class for 2000 riding the black Honda NSR500 in the Sito Pons outfit. In his first year back Capirossi finished seventh overall with a best finish coming at his home-race, winning at Mugello.

Sitting behind the dominance of Valentino Rossi and his friend's battle with Max Biaggi in 2001 would also see Loris' best finish in the championship table, finishing third in an Italian top three in swansong for the 500cc two-strokes.

2002 saw the dawn of the MotoGP and four-stroke era, in a less-competitive year than the previous season Loris was hampered by having to compete against the 990cc four-strokes on the 500cc two-stroke. Honda would also choose team-mate Alex Barros over him as he was not given access to an RC211V. Before the close of the championship he would achieve the last two-stroke podium, placing third at Motegi.

2003 - 2005

Making history with Ducati's first MotoGP win

Ducati pick Capirossi to spearhead its assault on the four-stroke 990cc MotoGP class. Little Loris takes a podium first time out at Suzuka and later gives his hometown - he was born in Bologna - factory a debut win in the premier class at the Catalan GP at Barcelona ahead of Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau.

Capirossi breaks down in tears of joy on the Catalunya podium as the Italian national anthem plays. Capirossi also sets three pole positions and one fastest lap on his way to fourth place overall in the standings. At Valencia, he celebrates his 200th start in Grand Prix racing.

2006 - 2007

Capirossi becomes a title challenger on the Desmo

Capirossi and Ducati made the perfect start to 2006 with a commanding victory at Jerez and three further podium positions in the opening six rounds. As the series moved onto the next round at Catalunya his season is curtailed as Capirossi is caught up in the multiple bike collision in the first corner.

Thankfully leaving Barcelona without any serious injures - other than concussion - from the dramatic pile-up, a run of poor results would see Loris lose ground on Nicky Hayden in championship and drop to fifth in the standings. Capirex turned around his fortunes after an easy win by pulling away from the field at Brno, another victory at Motegi followed and second behind first-time winner and stand-in team-mate Troy Bayliss at the last race at Valencia ending the 2006 season in third.

2008 - 2010

A third at Brno in 2008 and 300 race starts achieved on the Suzuki

Following a difficult year on the Desmoseidici after MotoGP switches to 800cc, the season sees Loris outperformed by his new team-mate and newly crowned champion, Casey Stoner and not retained for 2008 the wily Italian ends his relationship with Ducati and moves to Suzuki.

The first year on the GSV-R saw Loris' best finish on the Rizla blue Suzuki with a third place finish at Brno, although 21 seconds behind the race winner. The first two years on the Hammamatsu machine were his best years on the bike with ninth and tenth overall in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

The opening round of the 2010 season at Qatar was a milestone for Capirossi as he would ride in his 300th Grand Prix race. He would finish in ninth on the Rizla Suzuki, commenting on this achievement he said: “I never thought I would get to this many, but I have been lucky in my career and I have always given 100% and kept myself fit so that I have been able to stay at the top. I never really think about how many races I’ve been in, but this number is very special and I guess it will probably never happen for another rider.”

2011

2011 becomes Capirossi's last year

Now 38 and 22 years from his first year in Grand Prix racing, Capirossi rejoined Ducati in the satellite Pramac team. The year has so far been a struggle with all Ducati riders having a difficult time with the carbon chassis and Capirossi missing two races through injury.

To close, when Loris reaches the flag at the last round of the season and the last race of his career he will have completed an impressive record of 330 starts in a career that has run over two decades.

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