MotoGP

Pol Espargaro says Lorenzo retirement just an ‘excuse’ to quit Honda

Pol Espargaro says he isn't fooled by Jorge Lorenzo's decision to retire from MotoGP, claiming it was just an 'excuse' to get out of his Honda contract

Pol Espargaro believes Jorge Lorenzo’s decision to ‘retire’ from MotoGP was simply an excuse to get out of his Honda contract and reckons he will be back on the grid racing in 2021.

Lorenzo announced his retirement on the eve of the 2019 MotoGP finale after a difficult single season on the title-winning Repsol Honda, fraught with injuries and a series of lacklustre results unbefitting of his triple MotoGP World Champion status.

However, after re-joining Yamaha just weeks later as its test rider – a role that should have seen him return to the grid as a wildcard at the Catalunya MotoGP – many, including Marc Marquez, have suggested his retirement call was simply a ruse to avoid struggling on the Honda for another year.

It’s a view shared by KTM rider Espargaro, who says Lorenzo isn’t the ‘age of a rider to retire’ and believes he will be back as a racer with Yamaha in the not too distant future.

“The fact of retiring was an excuse for not being able to continue with Honda, have a gap year at home, think about his future and return with Yamaha,” he told AS. “I was convinced that if he returned with Yamaha and the results came with him, with the bike was coming back. 

“For me it was very clear. A rider who returns to racing is not a retired rider. Is he? He is not the age of a rider to retire. He has speed. When he went from Ducati to Honda he was winning. I don't think that in just one year all that talent will be lost. Or all those desire to win or ride a motorcycle. 

“It is true that the Honda is a very complicated motorcycle, very hard, we see Marc fighting with it every weekends, so it does not surprise us, but that does not mean that Jorge is not good.”

However, when Lorenzo was asked by Radio Catalunya over the weekend what he thought of riders that believe he retired to skip his contractual duties, he’s non-plus, adding he wouldn’t be short of offers if he did return.

“There are many opinions and you have to respect what they think. If in this case Pol thinks that and says it with respect, well, it is respected.

"In the event that I wanted to compete again, I don't think I'd be short of offers, but at the moment that is not the case."

Honda couldn’t ‘force’ Jorge Lorenzo to continue racing

Espargaro’s words are partly backed up by Honda team manager Alberto Puig, who believes his failure to get to grips with the RC213V did influence his decision to retire, but maintains there was no push by the outfit to force him to honour his deal.

“He is a guy that has won a lot of races and suddenly he is gets theoretically a super bike, but he cannot even go top ten. What is the guy thinking? He is thinking ‘I don’t like this’, he tried, he crashed, suddenly one day he thinks he can’t do it with this bike so he decided to stop.

“As I said at that point, he has all my respect. One of the good things of riding is you can do whatever you like with your life and this is what he did, he decided to stop. This is what he did, if he wants to go back to test or to race, there is nothing I can say. He must follow his wishes and his dreams.”

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