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2006 In Review: Porto retires

2006 In Review: Porto retires

2006 In Review: Porto retires

After a turbulent opening to his season, Argentine rider Sebas Porto took the surprise decision to announce his retirement from the world of racing at the Catalunya Grand Prix. In an interview conducted after his emotional press conference, Porto explained the decision and his feelings post-retirement.

Barcelona was a strange weekend for you, wasn't it? Being at the wall, watching your former rivals on the track after ten seasons alongside them.

"It's a strange feeling. The truth is that it is the first time in my whole sports career - almost thirteen years in Europe - that I watch it from the other side, off the bike. A strange feeling, but I'm calm inside because it's been my own decision, I made it all by myself, and it's been deeply meditated. If the decision were to have come from somewhere else, the team, my family, or the sponsor, I would feel as though I'd been forced to do it. But this decision was my own and, although it's going to be hard, I think that I'll be all right in a couple of months or so."

Have you already assimilated it?

"Yes I have. And I have assimilated it well, because it wasn't an overnight decision. I had been thinking about it for a couple of weeks and I finally took the decision last week. If I would be on the bike today, I wouldn't be enjoying like I did before and if you don't enjoy it's difficult, because the problems get even bigger."

It must be difficult to get on a bike unwillingly, with no excitement and knowing that there are a lot of problems.

"That might have happened if I would have continued racing. Until France - because I guess the idea came up in Mugello - I have been the same rider as always. I gave my best, I have always given my best and nothing strange ever entered my mind. But there has been no understanding between the bike and myself: I haven't been able to understand the bike and the bike hasn't allowed me to ride like I had before. And then, when tiredness comes up and you start thinking this kind of thing, you have to be cool and analyse everything, because it's not easy to take this kind of decision. But, you have to make choices in life and I think that I have chosen what I really felt. I've always tried not to cheat people, not to promise things I knew I wouldn't be able to achieve."

What was the internal process that led you to take this difficult decision?

"I don't exactly remember how the idea came to mind, but it was more or less after the race in France, and it came up because of a bunch of things. First I was thinking about how much longer I would be there, because, well, things pile up, you know? Maybe the latest bad results were the drop that filled the glass and the water just ran over. All my sacrifices, all these years I've been away from my country and away from my family, leaving my youth behind...; it weighs on you. Eventually, the definitive factor that made me say "enough!", was that I don't enjoy myself on the bike any more like I did before. If I would have continued under these conditions it would be a sacrifice, it would mean forcing something that you don't do naturally anymore; and in this world, in top level competition, you cannot afford to be at less than a 100%."

How did your parents react when you told them that you had taken the decision and that it was over?

"Before telling anything to my family I talked to Paco Sánchez, my manager, and to Alberto Puig. I've always been very close to my family; they have always known everything about me and I have to admit that my parents have never interfered in my decisions nor in moments like this; they have always respected as parents the decisions I have taken; both as regards the personal things and the sporting aspects. So it was just like that; when the idea started to grow in my mind I told them and they told me to think it over, to avoid analysing things on the spur of the moment, because I might make a wrong decision. That is maybe the reason why I took two or three weeks to think about it. After Mugello I went back to Argentina and there, alone - my family stayed in Barcelona - I analysed everything calmly, took my decision and told them on the phone. They supported me and they have ever since."

What would you tell all those Argentineans that are worried about you before going back?

"For a long time I've been almost the only rider competing in the World Championship and that makes the news even more significant in my country. But I think that people in general have accepted it. 90% of the people understand it and support me and, well, there is a percentage of people who obviously do not really understand it because they are not here, they do not know what this world means apart from the sporting side; they don't know anything about the trips, the wear, the yearning and many other things. And the only thing I can say is that it's been a personal decision that I hope they will respect, and although I'm retiring, I will keep on working somehow in order to help Argentinean Motorcycling to continue improving. There's nothing clear yet, but our idea is, together with the people from Repsol, to continue together with some project, looking for young promising riders in Argentina. I would love to do that, because I don't want to stay away completely from what has been my life for such a long time. I think that I'm still young and that I have many chances to do a lot of things."

What did Alberto Puig tell you? Has he given you any advice?

"We all know Alberto, he is straightforward. He told me that somehow he understands it, because these are personal decisions, and that somehow he doesn't because he considered me to be a young rider with a lot of possibilities. But he said clearly that he respects my decision and I want to publicly say thank you to Alberto, and also to Honda and Repsol YPF, for their support, because when you decide something like this, it's not easy to be supported the way they have supported me. I'm deeply thankful and although I've already said it many times, I insist that this year I have been in the best team that I have ever been a part of, technically and also on a personal level. Working all these years with Repsol YPF has made me feel very proud and moreover, I have been able to win races in the World Championship and fight for the title thanks to Repsol YPF backing me all the way. I really hope to be able to continue working with them in the future."

Let's go back in time. Ten years in the World Championship, one World Vice-championship, 7 victories and 19 podium finishes, 11 fastest laps… What is the moment which Sebastián Porto keeps the best memories?

"There have been many and very good moments, and there have been also hard and difficult moments. The truth is that it's difficult to choose one. Every victory is a special memory, but every time you win a race you don't have much time left to enjoy it, because the race is over, you enjoy your victory on Sunday and on Monday you're already thinking about the next race. This is a very demanding world, so I think that I will really be able to value all I achieved after some time. I achieved a lot, considering that I'm from Argentina; I managed to win races in the World Championship, I took one European title and was runner-up in the World Championship, that's been the best I achieved. Maybe I would choose the two consecutive victories in Holland, in Assen. Winning there, in such a historically significant circuit like Assen was maybe one of the happiest moments of my sports career."

And the worst memory or that little something you have missed?

"I always say that my worst memory in sports was the year 1998, because it was a very hard year for me. I was just about to quit because I didn't have any good results, because those people I was with then told me basically that my sports career was over. I remember it was in late January, the IRTA tests were almost upon us and I had neither a bike nor a team. But then the miracle happened and I don't know how, but there was the Italian Team Edo Racing, offering me a Yamaha to continue in the Championship that season."

You have faced many riders along your sports career. Which has been the one who stands out the most? "I think that, obviously because he has been the hardest rival with whom I fought for the Championship title, it would be Dani Pedrosa. He has been a hard rival in these last two years for all of us. Sometimes I was able to show that I could be faster than him and I have won several races, but he has been one of those consistent, tough and very regular riders, and I think that there are not many riders uniting all these qualities. You can be fast in qualifying, fast in the race but then you have to be consistent, you can't make mistakes, and you have to be mentally strong, and I think that Dani has all of these qualities. Apart from Dani, Valentino Rossi. Right now I think that they are the only riders that are one step ahead of all the others."

And to finish, some word association for you Sebas….

Injuries

"Almost nothing. Thank God I have only had several hard impacts in all these years, but the worst injury I had was a rib fissure. I've lost consciousness two or three times after crashes, I think that that's been the worst. But if we analyse all crashes I had, it really hasn't been that serious."

Fans

"I think that the Italian and the Spanish fans, especially the Spanish fans, have always supported me and made me feel as if I would be in my second home. Being loved by people is something I appreciate a lot, especially these last two years considering that I was the rival of a Spanish rider. People cheering you up when you're walking along the Paddock and also outside, while you are fighting against a local rider is something I appreciate a lot. And considering the passion and how they follow everything, I think that especially Jerez, is the most special race of all for me."

Paddock

"The Paddock is like home for all of us. It is really a world you live very intensively. If you're there it's like being in another world. You forget a lot of things while you're there and you got four or five days in which you move away from everything and disconnect. We all know each other, we're always the same people, so it's important to get along well with everybody, because we meet again at the next race and you cannot feel comfortable if you have problems with somebody. You have to be professional above all."

And last but not least: the Media

"Very good. The Media have always respected me a lot and I must highlight my relationship with the Spanish media, because they have made me feel very well and they have always respected me. I really don't remember any time that could have been hard for me or having been criticized; they have always been correct with me, they have always talked well about me and, yeah, this is what I would like to highlight, and above all thank the Spanish media for how well they have always treated me."

Tags:
250cc, 2006

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