MotoGP

‘Very sorry’ Jorge Lorenzo – “I disappointed Honda”

Jorge Lorenzo expresses his regret at being unable to bring success to the Repsol Honda team as he calls time on his title-winning MotoGP career

Jorge Lorenzo says he is ‘very sorry’ for the way his glittering career came to such an ignominious end at the conclusion of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, saying he ‘disappointed’ those that had put faith in him.

The triple premier class champion made the shock decision to call time on his racing career on the eve of the 2019 finale in Valencia, citing his lingering injury concerns and a lack of motivation stemming from his troubled time adapting to the Honda RC213V as his reasons.

Though Lorenzo believes he would have come good on the Honda eventually, the already tricky transition was already dragging on due to injuries he sustained at Assen earlier in the year which left him around two seconds a lap slower than title-dominating team-mate Marc Marquez.

It’s a situation that left him harbouring regret for Honda, which had high expectations from the decision to have two of MotoGP’s most successful racers on the same machine.

He saved a particular apology for Repsol Honda boss Alberto Puig, the architect behind getting Lorenzo in to replace Dani Pedrosa in the dominant HRC outfit.

“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.

"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.”

Would Jorge Lorenzo have come good on the Honda?

Not always the clearest and most concise of riders when expressing himself, the emotion in Lorenzo’s humble apology to Honda was clearly genuine.

Things went wrong very quickly for Lorenzo at Honda to the point that it’s hard to imagine it was the same rider challenging Marquez just a year earlier on the Ducati.

Indeed, there were some parallels with Lorenzo’s time at Ducati - a trudge to get the machine working to his style before blossoming into a contender that, on his day, not even Marquez could live with. In short, Honda got him on side because it felt it was ‘better the devil you know’ to have such a formidable rival on the same side.

However, the gulf in performance saw Lorenzo’s motivation visibly fade away, especially when injuries conspired to heap more pressure and stress on both body and mind.#

It is believable that Lorenzo would have eventually come good on the Honda but the rate of progress up to the end of 2019 was being slowed by those aforementioned injuries, he’d have likely ran out of time to prove it before the flurry of contract negotiations began.

Whether Lorenzo jumped before he was pushed is up for debate, but the vultures were clearly already circling around him meaning he risked not getting his ‘last race’ show had Honda taken matters into its own hands.

Retirement isn’t finite though… there are those that believe this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Lorenzo. Time will tell.

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