UPDATE: Jorge Lorenzo's full retirement speech below....

Jorge Lorenzo has announced his retirement from MotoGP, following this weekend's Valencia season finale.

During a special press conference at the circuit on Thursday afternoon, the five-time world champion confirmed that he will not serve the second year of his Repsol Honda contract.

"I always thought that there are four significant days for a rider," Lorenzo said. "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 imagined, I'm here to announce that this day has arrived for me. This will be my last race in MotoGP. This will be my last race in MotoGP and after this race I will retire as a professional racer."

Flanked by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, in a room packed full of media and many of his fellow riders, Lorenzo cited the string of injuries since September last year, most notably back fractures at Assen in June, as the main factor in his decision.

"People who work with me know how much of a perfectionist I am, how much energy and intensity I have always put into my sport," he said.

"This level of perfectionism requires a lot of motivation, that is why after nine years at Yamaha – so wonderful, probably the best years that I enjoyed in my career – I felt that I needed a change, if I wanted to keep this full commitment to my sport.

"That’s why I wanted to move to Ducati, it gave me a big boost of motivation and even though the results were very bad, I used the motivation to not give up and keep fighting until I achieved the beautiful Mugello victory in front of all the Ducati fans.

"Then later, when I signed for Honda, you gave me another big boost because I achieved something all riders dream of, to become HRC rider for Repsol Honda.

"But unfortunately, injuries played an important part in my results and performance [this year].

"This plus a bike that didn’t feel natural to me, gave me a lot of problems to be competitive like I want to be. Anyway, I never lost patience and kept working with the team thinking it was probably only a matter of time until everything came into place.

"When I was starting to see some light in the tunnel, the nasty crash at the Montmelo test happened. Then some days later I had this ugly Assen crash, and you know the consequences that created.

"I have to admit when I was rolling in the gravel and stood up, I thought to myself ‘OK Jorge, is this really worth it? after what I've achieved, to keep suffering… I am done with it, I don’t want to race anymore'.

"But then I came back home and decided to give it a try. I didn't want to make any early decision. So I kept going. But the truth is from that moment the hill became so high and so big for me that I was not able to find the motivation, the patience, to keep trying to climb this mountain.

"I love to ride, I love competition, I love this sport but above all, I love to win. I realised at some point this was not possible, in this short time with Honda.

"At this stage of my career it was impossible for me to keep the motivation and my goal that I put into my mind at the beginning of the season was not realistic."

The final decision to retire was made only after the recent Malaysian Grand Prix, Lorenzo said.

Lorenzo, who paused several times to keep his emotions in check but remained composed, also apologised to Honda and team manager Alberto Puig for "disappointing" them this season.

"I have to say I feel very sorry for Honda. Especially Alberto, who was the one who gave me this opportunity. I remember very well one of the first meetings I had with him, to start chatting about my move to Honda. And I said, 'Alberto don’t make a mistake, signing the wrong rider! Trust me and you will not regret it'.

"Sadly, I have to say, I disappointed him. I disappointed Honda. Takeo [Yokoyama], [Tetsuhiro] Kuwata and Nomura-san [HRC president]. However I think this is the best decision for me and for the team because Honda and Jorge Lorenzo cannot fight to just score some points or even top five or podiums, that I think could be possible with time. I think we are both winners, that need to fight to win.

"Speaking with a little bit more happiness. Coming back to my beautiful and successful career, I always said that I'm a very lucky guy. Sometimes I feel a little bit like this movie 'one in a billion' that narrates the life of an Indian basketball player in the NBA.

"Because I raced against unbelievable riders of my generation and any of them could have achieved what I achieved, [but] they weren't as successful as I am. And especially most of them didn't even arrive into the world championship and had to go back to work in normal jobs. So I always felt very grateful."

Ezpeleta added: "This is a very special day. Jorge is a five-time world champion, competing among some of the best riders in history. As soon as I heard Jorge's decision, we spoke with the FIM and I'm pleased to say that Jorge will be made a MotoGP Legend during the next Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez."

Johann Zarco is favourite to take over Lorenzo's seat alongside reigning champion Marc Marquez next season, but other names such as Cal Crutchlow and Alex Marquez are also in the mix.

Lorenzo joined MotoGP as a double 250cc world champion in 2008, going on to perfect a silky-smooth riding style on his way to 44 wins and three world titles at Yamaha, including the only title defeat for Marquez, before a big-money switch to Ducati for 2017.

The Repsol Honda deal, signed just before Lorenzo claimed the first of three Ducati wins in 2018, created what was labelled a 'dream team' line-up with Marquez, the pair having won every MotoGP crown since 2012.

But the dream soon turned into a nightmare for Lorenzo, who was injured during the closing stages of his Ducati career, followed by a wrist fracture during winter training, then a succession of confidence-sapping falls from the Honda.

Aiming to become only the fifth rider in history to win premier-class races for three different manufacturers, Lorenzo instead has a best finish of 11th this season and has been no higher than 14th since returning from back fractures at Assen in June.

Lorenzo spent much of his Yamaha career alongside Valentino Rossi and is the only team-mate to have beaten the Italian to a world title, in both 2010 and 2015.

Lorenzo's retirement speech in full:

"Thank you for attending this press conference, it really means a lot to me, it makes me very happy.

"I always thought that there are four significant days for a rider. The first is you 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 arrived for me. This will be my last race in MotoGP and after this race I will retire as a professional racer.

"Everything started when I was three years old, almost 30 years of complete dedication to my sport. People who work with me know how perfectionist I am, how much energy and intensity I have always put into my sport.

"This level of perfectionism requires a lot of motivation, that is why after nine years at Yamaha – so wonderful, probably the best years that I enjoyed in my career – I felt that I needed a change, if I wanted to keep this full commitment to my sport.

"That’s why I wanted to move to Ducati, it gave me a big boost of motivation and even though the results were very bad, I used the motivation to not give up and keep fighting until I achieved this beautiful Mugello victory in front of all the Ducati fans.

"Then later, when I signed to Honda, you gave me another big boost because I achieved something all riders dream of, to become HRC rider for Repsol Honda.

"Unfortunately, injuries came very soon to play an important part in my results and performance, so I wasn’t able to be in normal physical condition to be fast or competitive.

"This plus a bike that didn’t feel natural to me, gave me a lot of problems to be competitive like I want to be. Anyway, I never lost patience and keep working with the team thinking it was probably only a matter of time until everything came into the right place.

"Then when I was starting to see some light in the tunnel, the nasty crash at the Montmelo test happened. And then some days later I crashed again in this ugly Assen crash, which you know the consequences that created.

"I have to admit when I was rolling in the gravel and I stood up, I thought to myself ‘OK Jorge, is this really worth it?’ after what I've achieved, to keep suffering… I am done with it, I don’t want to race anymore.

"But then I came back home and decided to give it a try. I didn't want to make any early decision. So I kept going. But the truth is from that moment the hill became so high and so big for me that I was not able to find the motivation, the patience to keep trying to climb this mountain.

"You all know, I love to ride, I love competition, I love this sport but above all I love to win. So I realised at some point this was not possible, in this short time with Honda. So…. [applause] at this stage of my career it was impossible for me to keep the motivation and my goal that I put into my mind at the beginning of the season was not realistic, in a short time.

"So I have to say I feel very sorry for Honda. Especially Alberto, who was the one who gave me this opportunity. I remember very well that day in Montmelo test, one of the first meetings I had with him, to start chatting about my move to Honda. And I said to him, 'Alberto don’t make a mistake, signing the wrong rider! Trust me and you will not regret it'.

"Sadly, I have to say, I disappointed him. I disappointed Honda. Takeo [Yokoyama], [Tetsuhiro] Kuwata and Nomura-san [HRC president]. However I think this is the best decision for me and for the team because Honda and Jorge Lorenzo cannot fight to just score some points or even top five or podium, that I think could be possible with time. I think we are both winners that need to fight to win.

"So speaking a little bit more for happiness, coming back to my beautiful and successful career I always said that I'm a very lucky guy. Sometimes I feel a little bit like this movie 'one in a billion' that narrates the life of an Indian basketball player in the NBA.

"Because I raced against unbelievable riders of my generation and any of them could have achieved what I achieved. [but] they weren't as successful as I am. And especially most of them didn't even arrive into the world championship and had to go back to work in normal jobs. So I always felt very grateful.

"It's true that I've been always a hard worker and made a lot of sacrifice but without being in the right place at the right time and especially without the help of many people, who helped me to achieve what I achieved, it would not have been possible.

"That's why I'm also here to thank everyone for their help, especially Carmelo and Dorna for all the good treatment they always gave to me and especially to make this sport so great.

"Also all the factories that believe in me and signed me – Derbi, Aprilia, Yamaha, Ducati, Honda. Especially Giampeiro Sacchi, Gigi Dall’Igna, Lin Jarvis and Alberto Puig.

"Then obviously my mother for bringing me into this world. My father to transmit me this love for the bike and all help that he did. Juanito [mechanic] for his loyalty, staying with me all my career. My fans, my fan club, all the fans of MotoGP in general, who keep this sport as it is today.

"This is it. Thank you all for all the help. It was a pleasure to work with you and with all my heart I wish you all the best, all the luck, professionally and personally. Thanks a lot."

 

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