Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig has praised Jorge Lorenzo's 'humanity and gratefulness', following his MotoGP retirement announcement at Valencia on Thursday, while expressing regret that they were unable to enjoy success together.

Puig was credited with creating a 'dream team' pairing by signing triple MotoGP champion Lorenzo to join then five-time champion Marc Marquez, just before the #99 began winning for Ducati last season.

But after a miserable, injury-littered 2019, Lorenzo has officially announced he will retire after Sunday's season finale.

Rumours about Lorenzo's future have been swirling since back injuries at Assen in June, but Puig maintained: "He just let us know [the decision] some days after Malaysia."

Lorenzo's retirement speech certainly didn't gloss over this year's difficulties, the five-time world champion saying he felt "very sorry for Honda. Especially Alberto, who was the one who gave me this opportunity… I disappointed him."

Is that how Puig feels?

"First, I have to say that I've met a lot of top riders in my life, in my job as a manager," he replied. "I have to say, with all my feeling, that Jorge acted like a 100% complete person.

"Whatever the [impression] people may have of him, he's a true gentleman, he's a really nice guy that can appreciate what people do for him and he's very grateful to those people. A champion with these characteristics is difficult to find.

"The other story is that unfortunately it didn’t work out between him and Honda, but me personally, I have to say that I'm really impressed with his humanity and his gratefulness to the people around him.

"So I have to say thank you for his fair play and also I have to say that his manager was also very correct in the way we handled the situation.

"It was a brave decision, but I'm only sorry and sad that I could not help him more, because normally the riders that I have been trying to support are always able to get the [most] out of their potential and the help we give them, but in this case it was not possible and I feel sorry for that."

The big question now is who will be selected to take over one of the most prestigious seats in motorcycle racing.

Puig insisted no decision has yet been made and that it will not be 'chaos' if Lorenzo's replacement is not on track for the team at next week's test.

"We are thinking, but obviously we don’t have a clear answer at this moment," Puig said.

"It's not a dramatic issue… The important thing is that Marc tries the new prototype next week. Of course it would be better to have two riders on track, don’t misunderstand me, but it will not be chaos if we have one. In any case probably Stefan [Bradl] will join us for the test."

Puig did not want to name those on the Repsol Honda 2020 shortlist, but admitted LCR stand-in Johann Zarco and Moto2 champion Alex Marquez are both "possible, but there are also other guys, so we have to analyse."

Meanwhile, a statement released by HRC president Yoshishige Nomura, read:

“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Jorge Lorenzo, he has been one of the strongest champions in the last decade that we have fought against and now worked with.

"The chance to have Lorenzo in Repsol Honda Team colours was something truly unique and 2019 was full of promise. Unfortunately, he suffered a lot of bad luck with injuries before the season started and also during the season with his fall in Assen.

"As a result, he wasn’t able to recover the confidence he once had and we will sadly be ending our cooperation early as he retires from racing. We at Honda Racing Corporation would like to wish him all the best for the future.”

 

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