The MotoGP paddock has provided tributes to Jorge Lorenzo following his surprise retirement announcement at the end of this season, with Valentino Rossi calling him “one of the most important MotoGP riders of the modern era”.

During a special press conference ahead of this year’s season finale in Valencia, Lorenzo announced his retirement from racing at the end of this year meaning the five-time world champion splits from Repsol Honda after just one season.

With Lorenzo explaining the reasons behind his retirement call, his fellow MotoGP riders reflected on the news and through rivalries on and off track they accepted he will be missed as a key figure on the grid.

After sharing a Yamaha garage with Lorenzo for six years (2008-2010 and 2013-2016) and at times having a bitter relationship – which resulted in the infamous wall within the team garage – Rossi sees the Spanish rider as one of his greatest rivals as he led the tributes to the five-time world champion.

Lorenzo claimed two of his three MotoGP world titles with Rossi as his team-mate (2010 and 2015) and remains the Italian’s only team-mate to secure world championships against him.

“I think that Jorge is one of the most important MotoGP riders of the modern era,” Rossi said. “I think we will lose a very important part of our sport. He is a great champion and he impressed me a lot of times for his speed, concentration and from when he arrived in MotoGP from the first moment he was always very strong, from 2008, so more than 10 years.

“We were team-mates for a long time, a lot of years together, we shared the same box, and I think for me personally he is one of the greatest rivals in my career.

“Together I think we did some of the best racing that I remember in my history. It is a great shame that he finished but he is good in the body and he is okay so I wish him good luck for the future.”

Lorenzo’s current team-mate Marc Marquez says the news came as a complete shock and paid respect to his fellow countryman having been impressed by his efforts across a difficult maiden campaign at Repsol Honda.

“It was a surprise even for me as in the team we didn’t know and it was a surprise,” Marquez said. “Especially because the way that he worked in the box over the last few races, the results could have been better or worse, but his work was exactly the same as the first day he was here at Honda.

“One hour ago I was with him in his track just to say congratulations. Obviously for his career but especially the way he has taken the decision. This is something that means a lot, how is Jorge, because he is a real champion.

“At the moment he felt he was not able to be in the top places he decided to stop and this means a lot about him as a strong character inside and outside of the track. He is a real champion so congratulations to him and I wish him the best for the future.”

With Lorenzo reasoning two heavy crashes from earlier this season at the Montmelo test and at Assen as triggers on thoughts about quitting, Andrea Dovizioso sympathised with his long-time rival having seen his own career intertwine with the Spaniard. Dovizioso finished runner-up to Lorenzo during both his 250cc world title triumphs in 2006 and 2007 before they stepped up to the premier class in the same season back in 2008.

“Jorge was my rival. I think I met him in the European championship back in 2001 and every year we changed class in the same moment so we have always been big rivals and we won a lot of races and championships,” Dovizioso said.

“He can be happy about his career and unfortunately this is the sport and sometimes it is difficult to continue to be at that level. I think he had some crashes over the past two years and they effected his mind but I think what he has done in the championship is something huge.”

With Lorenzo also seeing new rivals join him in MotoGP, including Maverick Vinales who replaced him at Yamaha when he left the Iwata team after nine years, the wider paddock has given a nod to the 32-year-old ahead of the final race of his career.

“To win the world title five times is not easy,” Vinales said. “He is a great rider and a great talent and he has shown every race he was always on the top in each category but that is the most important thing, if he feels now is the moment it is about himself. We wish him the best luck for the rest of his life.”

“When I started to watch races on TV he was my reference and I was pushing a lot for him,” Alex Rins added. “For me he is an idol. He won a lot of races and he has a very big talent so I feel good to fight with him, not for a lot of races, but to share the track with him too.”

“I remember where I was when I first realised about Jorge Lorenzo which was Rio when he won the race and he stopped as he finished the fuel. He stopped in a very particular place” Franco Morbidelli also said. “I remember very clearly because he gave me a really nice feeling so I remember very clearly where I was and what I was feeling.

“He had an amazing career and amazing results with a really particular style. He has his own riding style and also outside of the track. So he is definitely one of the biggest riders in history. It is a pity because he stops but if he is happy with his decision then everybody should be happy for him.”

 

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