"He’s one of the greatest rivals of my career"

Riders in the pre-event Press Conference paid tribute to Jorge Lorenzo after he announced he will retire on Sunday in Valencia

On Thursday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo announced he will retire after this weekend. In the pre-event Press Conference, teammate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), long-time rivals Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), compatriots Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli shared their thoughts on Lorenzo’s retirement.

2019 World Champion Marquez began. The only rider to beat the number 93 to the premier class title is Lorenzo and, sitting as his current teammate, Marquez admitted the decision came to a surprise to both himself and Honda. However, the eight-time Champion was full of respect and admiration for his fellow Spaniard ahead of their final race together.

“Yeah of course it was a surprise even for his teammate. In the team, we didn’t know and it was a surprise,” admitted Marquez. “Especially the way he worked in the box – then the results can be better or worse – but the way that he worked was exactly the same as his first day in Honda. Just an hour ago I was with him in his truck to say congrats, obviously for his career but especially the way to take the decision.

“This is something that means a lot - how is Jorge? Because he is a real champion. The moment he feels he can’t be in the top places he decided to stop. A strong character on and off the track, and yeah, a real champion. I want to say congrats to him and wish him the best for the future.”

Dovizioso, one of Lorenzo’s greatest rivals, then shared his thoughts: “Jorge was my rival because I met him in the European Championship in 2001 and every year we changed class at the same moment, so we’ve always been rivals. He’s won a lot of races and championships, is I think he can just be happy about his career.

“Unfortunately this is the sport and sometimes it’s difficult to continue to be in that level, I think he had some crashes in the last two years, and it affected his mind, but I think what he did in the world championship is something huge.”

Viñales, who took over Lorenzo’s seat at Yamaha when the latter moved to Ducati, then paid his respect to the number 99: “Yes, for sure. I mean to win 5 times the championship is not easy.  He’s a great rider, a great talent.  He showed every race that he was always at the top in each category, and that’s the most important. I think if he feels that now is the moment, it’s about himself, and I wish him the best luck for the rest of the life.”

A reference for him growing up, Rins was sad to see Lorenzo retire. But the Suzuki man was proud to have been able to race and battle with one of his idols: “Yeah for sure when I started to watch the races on TV, he was my reference. I was pushing a lot for him. For me he is an idol, he won many races. He has a very big talent. I feel good to fight with him, not a lot of races, but to share a track with him.”

Next up, Rossi. The Yamaha rivalry between the ‘Spartan’ and ‘The Doctor’ is one that will live forever in the memory as an all-time classic contest. The nine-time World Champion, unsurprisingly, had some kind words to say about his former teammate.

“I think that he is for sure one of the most important MotoGP riders in the modern era. I think that we lose a very important part of our sport,” commented Rossi. “He’s a great champion, he impressed me a lot of times for his speed and concentration. From when he arrived in MotoGP, he was always from the first moment very strong, from 2008, so more than ten years. We were teammates for a long time, a lot of years together we shared the same box and I think he’s, personally, one of the greatest rivals of my career. We did some of the best races together, that I remember in my history, so it’s a great shame that he finished but he’s good, he’s okay, and I wish him a lot of luck for the future.”

And finally, Morbidelli had his say on Lorenzo as he remembered his first memory of the Spaniard: “Yes, I remember the first time…I remember where I was when I first realised about Jorge Lorenzo, which was Rio, which he won and then he stopped because he finished the fuel, he stopped in a very particular place. I remember very, very clearly because he gave me a nice feeling, so I remember very clearly where I was and what I was feeling.  He had an amazing career, he had amazing results with a really particular style. I mean, he has his own style - riding style and also outside of the track. So, he’s definitely one of the biggest riders according to me in history. So, yeah, a pity because he stops, but if he’s happy with this decision then everybody should be happy.”

The riders will be on track alongside Lorenzo on Friday morning at 09:55 local time (GMT+1) for the final FP1 of the season. Who will come out on top?

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