“OK, is this really worth it?”– Jorge Lorenzo explains retirement call

Jorge Lorenzo explains the 'mountain climb' it took to get back to full fitness following his Assen crash was pivotal in his retirement call

Jorge Lorenzo - Yamaha

Jorge Lorenzo has given insight into the details that led to his decision to call time on his World Championship-winning motorcycle racing career, revealing his sizeable accident at Assen left him questioning why he is putting himself through injury stress.

The Spaniard will hang up his leathers at the conclusion of the 2019 Valencia MotoGP event this weekend, bringing an end to a grand prix career that has spanned more than 17 years and yielded a total of 5 World Championships (3 in MotoGP, 2 in 250GP).

However, his 2019 campaign has been hampered by poor form and injury recoveries, beginning in pre-season testing and then followed by a huge smash in Assen when he injured his back while rolling through the gravel trap.

With his form failing to improve on his return to action and ongoing complaints about his physical condition, Lorenzo duly calls time on his career with what will no doubt be a much celebrated final outing on home soil.

“When I signed to Honda, you (it) gave me another big boost because I achieved something all riders dream of, to become HRC rider for Repsol Honda,” he said.

“Unfortunately, injuries came very soon to play an important role in my results and performance, so I wasn’t able to be physical in normal conditions to be fast or competitive. This plus a bike that didn’t feel comfortable to me, gave me a lot of problems to be competitive like I want to be. Anyway, I keep working with the team thinking it was only a matter of time until I came into the right place.

“Then when I was starting to see the light, then the nasty crash at Montmelo and then some days later I crashed in this ugly Assen crash, which you know the consequences that created.

“When I was rolling in the gravel and then I stand up, I thought to myself ‘OK Jorge, is this really worth it?’ after all I achieve, to keep suffering… I am done with it, I don’t want to race anymore.”

It was during this period that it became known Lorenzo was canvassing options to switch teams in 2020, approaching both Petronas SRT and Ducati, who duly turned him down. Though he returned to Honda and insisted he wanted to stay until the end of 2020, Lorenzo says he could ‘no longer climb the mountain’

“But then I came home and I decided to give it a try, I didn’t want to make any early decision, so I keep going, but the truth is from that moment the heal became so hard that I was not able to find the motivation or patience to keep climbing this mountain.”

Jorge Lorenzo gets his fourth ‘big day’ to quit on his terms

The performance struggles and the injuries have dominated Jorge Lorenzo’s headlines throughout 2019 but that shouldn’t detract from what has been an extraordinary career as one of the few riders that could be simply unbeatable on any day – in Lorenzo’s case, many days.

Reading between the lines, there are parts of Lorenzo’s speech that suggests the decision to retire didn’t necessarily originate from him with Honda becoming impatient and levering pressure on Alberto Puig to shift him from the team before 2020. Not so much jump before being pushed, but perhaps being gently encouraged from the sidelines…

With no ride forthcoming in 2020 – and no guarantee of a return in 2021 – Lorenzo will have gleaned strength from taking back control of his destiny, calling the press conference and ending his career on his terms, complete with the associated pomp and circumstance is inevitably generates.

Had he not chosen now, he’d have missed out on what was an emotional opportunity to experience the ‘fourth big day’ of his career.

“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 imagine here, I am here to announce that this day has arrive for me…”

He ends his grand prix career with 68 grand prix victories – 47 of which have come in MotoGP – 152 podiums and 69 pole positions, plus five World Championship (3 in MotoGP).