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Q&A: Sebastian Porto.

On the eve of last weekend's Catalan Grand Prix, 250cc star Sebastian Porto surprised the MotoGP paddock by announcing his immediate retirement from racing.

Here, the 27-year-old former Repsol Honda rider - a seven times grand prix winner and the 2004 championship runner-up - talks about the decision to end his ten year world championship career...

Barcelona must have been a strange weekend for you – after ten years of racing you were watching the action from the pit wall, how did it feel?

Sebastian Porto:
"It was a strange feeling. The truth is that it is the first time in my whole sports career - almost thirteen years in Europe - that I watched from the 'other side', off the bike. A strange feeling, but I'm calm inside because it's been my own decision, I took it all by myself, and it's been carefully considered. If the decision would have come from somewhere else, the team, my family, or the sponsor, I would feel as if I would have been forced to do it. But this decision was mine and although it's going to be hard, I think that I'll be all right in a couple of months or so."

Have you come to terms with the decision yet?

Sebastian Porto:
"Yes I have. And I have adapted to it well, because it wasn't from one day to the next. I had been thinking about it for a couple of weeks and I finally took the decision last week. If I would be on the bike today, I wouldn't be enjoying like I did before and if you don't enjoy it's difficult, because the problems get even bigger."

It must be difficult to get on a bike when your heart isn't fully in it, especially given the obvious risks…

Sebastian Porto:
"That might have happened if I had continued racing. Until France - because I guess the idea (to retire) came up in Mugello - I had been the same rider as always. I gave my best, I have always given my best and nothing strange ever came up to my mind. But there has been no understanding between the bike and me: I haven't been able to understand the bike and the bike hasn't allowed me to ride as I had so far. And then, when tiredness comes up and you start thinking this kind of things, you have to be cool and analyse everything, because it's not easy to take this kind of decision. But, well, you have to make choices in life and I think that I have chosen what I really felt. I've always tried not to cheat, not to promise things I knew I wouldn't be able to achieve."

How did you reach the decision to stop?

Sebastian Porto:
"I don't exactly remember how the idea came to my mind, but it was more or less after the race in France, and it came up because of a bunch of things. First I was thinking about how much longer I would be there, because, well, things pile up, you know? Maybe the latest bad results were somehow the drop that filled the glass and the water just ran over. All my sacrifices, all these years I've been away from my country and away from my family, leaving my youth behind...; it's heavy. Eventually, the definitive factor that made me say enough was that I didn't enjoy being on the bike any more like I did before. If I'd continued under these conditions it would mean forcing something that you don't do naturally anymore; and in this world, in top level competition, you cannot afford being at less than a 100%."

How did your parents, Oscar and Wilma, take the decision?

Sebastian Porto:
"Before telling my family I talked to Paco Sánchez, my manager, and to Alberto Puig. I've always been very close to my family; they have always known everything about me and I have to admit that even though my parents have never interfered in my decisions nor in moments like this; they have always respected as parents the decisions I have taken; both as regards the personal things and the sporting aspects. So it was just like that; when the idea started to grow in my mind I told them and they told me to think it over, to avoid analysing things on the spur of the moment, because I might take a wrong decision. That is maybe the reason why I took two or three weeks to think about it. After Mugello I went back to Argentina and there, alone - my family stayed in Barcelona - I analysed everything calmly, took my decision and told them on the phone. They supported me then and they have ever since."

You'll be back in your home country of Argentina in two weeks time, where you're something of a superstar. What would you like to say to them before you arrive?

Sebastian Porto:

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Porto retires, Catalunya 250GP 2006
Porto, Malaysian 250GP race, 2005
Porto celebrates win, Czech 250GP, 2004
Nicky Hayden - A tribute
Private testing action from Barcelona
Morning (left) and afternoon (right) lap times from Weds at Barcelona test
Marquez fall at private Barcelona test
Barcelona Circuit of Catalunya chicane final sector
New Catalunya chicane during private test
New chicane in use at Catalunya MotoGP test
Pedrosa, Zarco, Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Crowd, French MotoGP 2017
Baz, French MotoGP 2017
Rossi, Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Iannone, French MotoGP 2017
Folger, French MotoGP 2017
Crowd, French MotoGP 2017

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