Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo has announced his shock retirement following the completion of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. After a series of crashes, Lorenzo asked at his press conference, “is it really worth it to keep suffering?” Lorenzo has decided what many other riders haven’t: no, it isn’t.
Lorenzo has been a fan-favorite driver in his 11-year tenure as a MotoGP rider. His 68 wins have placed him sixth on the all-time win list, and he was the first Spanish rider to actually secure multiple championships at the premier level.
But he’s struggled since his final championship in 2015. The past few years have been riddled with lost championship leads, winless streaks, bad crashes, and injuries. Being signed alongside Marc Marquéz at Honda this season has even proved to be a nightmare; Marquéz has been scoring win after win while Lorenzo has struggled to even secure a top-ten finish.
Breaking his back in Assen at the Dutch TT this year was the final straw. From his press conference, as reported in Motorsport Magazine:
I crashed again in this ugly Assen crash, and you all know the consequences,” he said. “I have to admit, when I was rolling on the gravel and when I stood up, I thought to myself, ‘ok Jorge, is this really worth it, after what I’ve achieved, to keep suffering?’ I’m done with it, I don’t want to race anymore.
I came home, I decided to give it a try, so I kept going but the truth is, the hill became so high and so big for me that I wasn’t able to find the motivation, the passion to keep climbing the mountain.
You can read the full transcript of Lorenzo’s press conference here.
It is still very rare for riders or drivers in any discipline of motorsport to admit that the possibility of injury (or even a history of injuries) has tarnished their love of the sport to the point where competing is just no longer worth it. It’s rare for a rider or driver to admit that they’re suffering when they set out to race. Honestly, it feels rare in any sport.
But Lorenzo has broken the stigma and done just that. He has owned up to the fact that doubt and fear play a significant role in motorsport, that you put your own ass on the line and sometimes it’s too much, and highlighting the things that are often kept in the shadows. Hopefully this opens the door to a deeper conversation about what racers face when they compete.