Aleix Espargaro: I said ‘Laura, this is the end’

Aleix Espargaro reveals the moment when he made his MotoGP retirement decision.

Aleix Espargaro and family, 2024 Catalan MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro and family, 2024 Catalan MotoGP

Aleix Espargaro called his wife and told her about his decision to retire after crashing out on a damp patch on the opening lap of the Spanish MotoGP Sprint race.

Upon making his decision public in Barcelona on Thursday, the 34-year-old explained that he first began thinking about retirement as he left for COTA, before Jerez.

“When I went to America, when I was packing to go to the races, I started to struggle a little bit. I started to feel like I preferred to stay at home with my kids rather than go racing. And in a job like mine, when you feel even 1% like this, you cannot continue,” said the triple MotoGP grand prix winner.

“I have the best team in the world. They spend a lot of money, with one of the best bikes. So if you are 95% commitment not 100%... you have to realise that it's enough.

“It's been a privilege. I've been very lucky to be able to say ‘enough’, not need to be pushed away, go to a satellite team or another championship. Enough is enough.

“So after Jerez when I crashed in the Sprint I called my wife and I said I said ‘Laura, this is the end’. It's been a nice journey, but I want to stay at home more and I don't want to take this risk for more time. I think I made the right decision.”

Never one to hide his emotions, Espargaro admitted it had been difficult to keep his decision a secret until Thursday at Montmelo.

“Yesterday I had dinner with all of my mechanics and I wanted to tell them but Massimo [Rivola] said to me ‘Please wait until tomorrow, when we do a meeting with everybody’.

“I had dinner with Pol two weeks ago and I had told him. Then it was not easy [to keep secret]. But I think it was very beautiful and worth it because today here in Barcelona has been amazing.”

And once it was made public, during an emotional press conference attended by most of Espargaro’s MotoGP rivals and many team managers, his relief was clear.

Big, big, big relief. During these days, I was quite sure of my decision, but from Tuesday when I was driving from Andorra to Barcelona and then also Wednesday morning I felt like couldn't breathe!” Espargaro said.

“It never happened before even in the most important races of my life. And it was a very beautiful day today and now I feel super, super relaxed.

“I’m proud of the decision that I took. It has been not easy. But I'm very happy.”

Aleix Espargaro, MotoGP riders, 2024 Catalan MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro, MotoGP riders, 2024 Catalan MotoGP

"One of the top three days in my life"

The presence of so many rivals, and their emotions, was also ‘amazing’.

“After the meeting with team, before the press conference, I cried a lot,” Espargaro said.

“Then when I arrived at the press conference and I saw all the team managers, all the riders that I compete with, it has been amazing.

“Jorge [Martin, close friend] has a big heart, but he's not super open, so I never saw him cry before. I love him a lot, a lot, a lot!

“And Marc. Marc Marquez crying. He didn't cry many times. It was unbelievable.

“It’s been maybe one of the top three days in my life, sincerely.

“To win races is a fantastic feeling. But to feel that the people love you, it's even better.”

Completing the circle for Espargaro was that he announced it at a home track with so many racing memories.

“When I was like this little man [points to his son], I started to come here in Barcelona to see the races,” Espargaro said. “I went to the grandstands with my father. Then I rode for the first time a road bike here in Barcelona, a 50cc bike, one million years ago!

“Then I had probably one of the most difficult days of my career when I made the mistake two years ago, counting the laps. Then here again, the best day of my life [winning both races last year and] on the podium with my kids. And then announcing my retirement.

“It's like a fairytale.”

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