MotoGP™ Legend Jorge Martinez 'Aspar' celebrated 40 uninterrupted years in the Motorcycle World Championship on the 23rd of May. Since he made his debut at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1982, at the Jarama circuit, four decades have passed full of successes, joys and disappointments, but, above all, of immense affection for a sport that has given him everything. He continues to give back to the great sport all these years later, taking care of future champions from their early years and fighting for world titles tirelessly.
It all started in 1981 when Jorge Martínez 'Aspar' was crowned Spanish 50cc Champion in his third season as a motorcycling driver. At the end of the year, in an interview, he announced his plans: "Next year we're going to the World Championship, no matter what". And he fulfilled it. Now, with forty years behind him, with 137 wins and 373 podiums as a rider or team manager, he takes stock and reviews the path that has brought him from the dream of debuting in the World Championship at the age of 19 to being named a MotoGP™ Legend.
What do you remember of May 23, 1982?
"Everything was born in 1981. Ricardo Tormo left me the Bultaco 50 and the 125 to run in the Spanish Championship. I won in 50 and was runner-up in 125, behind him. We set up the team for the World Championship with Ricardo's bikes, but he, who had signed for Kreidler, saw that the factory went bankrupt and was left unable to compete. The structure that we created was divided for two riders, and the adventure began at Jarama, on May 23, 1982. I competed there, and I finished sixth on my debut. We then traveled to Misano, Assen and Rijeka, in the former Yugoslavia. They were races that I did with the second motorcycle that he left me. Those were other times, another way of competing.
"Being on the starting grid at Jarama, racing on the same circuit where Ángel Nieto, Carlos Lavado, Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Franco Uncini or Marco Lucchinelli competed, who were the best in the world, for me it was a dream. Seeing myself there, for the first time, and finishing sixth, there is no doubt that that is what gave me the idea of saying: "I'm up for this"."
What remains of that boy who only wanted to ride a motorcycle?
"Fortunately, that child still has the dream of continuing in my world, in the world of motorcycles, linked to a sport that has given me everything, working for it, to continue training riders and to continue fighting for victories and titles."
Would you be able to highlight three memories of these 40 years?
"No, impossible. You can't talk about just one, three, five... there would be a million, many of them wonderful. In the sporting part, I've enjoyed the great triumphs with the great titles as a rider or as team leader. On the personal side, I am left with the opportunity to have been able to have a personal relationship with Ángel Nieto, with Ricardo Tormo, with riders who were my idols at the time, with the Rabasa family and Derbi, who helped me a lot. Also with the possibility of experiencing first-hand the arrival of a new generation, the evolution or revolution led by Carmelo Ezpeleta with Dorna, which has taken the world of motorcycling to another dimension."
What does it take to continue with such strength 40 years later?
It takes a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of passion, sacrifice and perseverance because just as there have been good times, we have gone through hard and difficult times. You need to have a great team around you, a large number of people who believe in you, who accompany you along the way, to be able to move forward against all odds.