Loris Capirossi will call an end his long grand prix career at the end of the 2011 MotoGP season.

The Italian - fighting back tears - announced the news on the eve of his final home grand prix, at Misano this weekend (pictured).

"It's difficult for me to say this because after 22 seasons this will be my last race in Italy because I have decided to stop," said Loris.

"I have thought a lot about stopping and I think this is the right decision for me. I would like to say 'thank you' to everybody who has supported me.

"It will be difficult to get my 100th podium, but I''ll fight to the end.

"As for my future, I still don''t have clear ideas. The only sure thing is that I won''t be a racer anymore.

"In life, it''s not easy to make these decisions, especially after so many years. Still, I''m sure that my new life will be thrilling, just like the one before it was.""

Capirossi made his 125cc debut back in 1990, winning the title in his very first season. He successfully defended his crown the following year, before moving to 250cc.

Capirossi then made his 500cc debut in 1995 and took his first premier-class win the following year.

A return to 250cc followed and Capirossi took a third world title under controversial circumstances for Aprilia in 1998, when he collided with team-mate Tetsuya Harada.

Since 2000 Capirossi has been a full-time 500cc/MotoGP rider, initially with Honda Pons - with whom he took one win, 15 podiums and third in the 2001 world championship.

Capirossi then joined the new Ducati MotoGP project for 2003, handing the Italian factory a race victory, five other podiums and fourth in the championship during a dream debut season.

2004 was far tougher for the Bologna-based team, but a surprise switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres for 2005 helped Capirossi claim two wins and set the scene for his best ever MotoGP season.

Capirossi won from pole in the 2006 Jerez season opener and was back on top of the championship standings after his home Italian Grand Prix, round six of 17.

But disaster struck next time out when he and team-mate Sete Gibernau collided on the entry to turn one at Catalunya - hospitalising them both.

Capirossi bravely tried to race on at the following rounds, but lost substantial points and it took five rounds before he returned to the podium, with his second victory of the year at Brno.

The unpredictable nature of the 2006 season, in which the likes of Marco Melandri and Valentino Rossi were also injured, meant Capirossi continued to have a fighting chance of the title until he struggled to seventh in the rain at Phillip Island, round 14 of 17.

Capirossi underlined what might have been - had he not been injured - by winning one further race and finishing third in the championship, 23-points behind champion Nicky Hayden and 18 from runner-up Rossi.

That final year of 990cc also marked the end of Capirossi as a regular race-winning force.

The #65 became the first of many riders to struggle with the 800cc Desmosedici in 2007, although he did add a ninth (and surely final) MotoGP victory during a wet-dry race in Japan, when new team-mate Casey Stoner clinched the championship.

Capirossi, who remains the only rider other than Stoner to win on the 800cc Desmosedici, then moved to Suzuki the following year.

Capirossi took his 99th career podium during his first season on the GSV-R, but hasn't stood on the rostrum since and returned to Ducati at the start of 2011.

Capirossi, now 38, signed to join the satellite Pramac team, believing that Rossi's input would benefit all Ducati riders.

However both Italians have struggled to understand the carbon-fibre framed Desmosedici and, having missed two races due to injury, Capirossi starts this weekend just 16th in the championship.

A switch to World Superbike or a new CRT MotoGP team for 2012, when MotoGP will return to 1000cc, had been rumoured - but Capirossi instead decided to hang up his helmet.

Rossi paid tribute to Capirossi, saying:

"I have a lot of memories about Loris. What I remember the most is Mugello and Sepang in 2006, fighting with Loris to the last lap. I think he is one of the best riders in this sport."

Barring further injury, by the end of 2011 - his 22nd world championship season - Capirossi will have made a record 330 motorcycle grand prix starts!

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