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Tetsuya Harada announces professional retirement

Tetsuya Harada announces professional retirement

Tetsuya Harada announces professional retirement

Former 250cc World Champion Tetsuya Harada will retire from competitive motorcycle racing after the final race of the 2002 season at Valencia tomorrow. The Japanese rider made an emotional announcement at a packed press conference at the Spanish circuit this evening, where he was honoured by dignitaries from Yamaha, Aprilia and Honda and his long-time rival Max Biaggi.

`At the end of a very difficult season I took this decision as I see no chance to pursue further success,´ said a tearful Harada. `During all these years my winning determination has been my faithful companion but now my rivals are way ahead of me and there is no reason for me to compete if I can´t be on the front row. I want to thank everyone that has made my career unforgettable. During these ten long years in the World Championship I really enjoyed myself. I don´t know yet what I will do next year – for the moment I am thinking of a breathtaking holiday with my wife Miyuki. Then, together with her, we will decide our future. First of all I have a race tomorrow. I have not given up just yet!´

Harada has enjoyed a glorious career since making his World Championship debut as a wildcard back in 1990. After two further wildcard appearances he won the quarter-litre title at the first attempt with Yamaha in 1993, taking four victories that season and adding thirteen more throughout his career, including three last season when he pushed Daijiro Kato all the way to the penultimate round. The 32 year old has taken 55 podium finishes, two in the 500cc class, in a career spanning over a decade, as well as 21 pole positions and 21 race fastest laps.

Biaggi made an impromptu appearance at the announcement and was desperate to add his own tribute to the retiring star. `I raced against some incredible 250 riders, such as Waldmann, Jacque and Nakano but Tetsuya was my toughest rival. When he came into the championship in 1993 he brought a whole new style to Grand Prix racing. He had completely different lines and I learnt a lot from him. This world will miss him – he is one of the greatest riders of all time.´

MotoGP, 2002, Gran Premio Marlboro de la Comunitat Valenciana

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