Loris Capirossi, the most experienced rider in the MotoGP World Championship, is saying goodbye to the motorcycling world after a 22-year career that began auspiciously, but has been in decline for the past several years. The Italian made the announcement that he was retiring at the end of this season in an emotional news conference ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix in Misano Adriatico, the final time he’ll race in front of his fellow countrymen.
“It’s difficult for me to say this because after 22 seasons this will be my last race in Italy because I have decided to stop,” he said. “It’s also strange to listen to the other riders talk about testing the new bikes, and I won’t do that.” He added, “I have thought a lot about stopping and I think this is the right decision for me. We have a lot of strong and fast riders here.”With fellow world champions Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Ben Spies on the press conference podium, he said, “I also want to say to the guys to try and help me in the last few races because I have 99 podiums.”The 38-year-old from Bologna-he now calls Monaco home-spanned a number of generations, racing against Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan, as well as Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies. Capirossi burst onto the world championship scene by winning the 125cc World Championship in 1990 and ’91 before graduating to the 250cc class, where he won the title in 1998. In between came a brief stint in the 500cc class riding for Wayne Rainey’s Marlboro Yamaha team in 1996, after a year on a Pileri Honda NSR500 in 1995. It was with Rainey’s team that he won his first premier class race, the Australian GP. Capirossi would win eight more, the last coming in the wet-dry Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi aboard the Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici in 2007. He also won eight 125cc GP’s and 12 in the 250cc class.
“It’s an important moment in my career, and the decision I made has come about after a lot of reflection,” he said. “I’m happy that after 25 years, of which 22 were in the world championship, I’m at a point where I can still have a smile on my lips as I part ways, even if it’s difficult to think that I won’t be riding a bike next year.”Capirossi rode for the Ducati Marlboro team from its inception in 2003 through 2007, with six wins and a best finish of third in the championship in 2006, his most productive year. He won three races, finished second four times and third once. Following the 2007 season he moved to Rizla Suzuki, ostensibly to help with development, but it didn’t work out. In three years he earned one podium, a third at Brno in 2008. Aboard the Pramac Racing Ducati this year, he’s 16th in the championship, with a best finish of ninth in Catalunya. Injuries prevented him from starting three races and he’s failed to finish three others, including last week’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix where he was forced to retire with front tire problems.”I must think the many, many people who over the years have followed me, encouraged me, motivated me,” he said. “That includes Team Pramac, who gave me my final opportunity to race a motorcycle. I’m sorry that I haven’t brought home good results this year, but I’m confident for the final part of the championship. Motegi, Phillip Island, and Sepang are my favorite tracks, and I’ve won many races there. It will be difficult to get my hundredth podium, but I’ll fight to the end. As for my future, I still don’t have clear ideas. The only sure thing is that I won’t be a racer anymore. In life, it’s not easy to make these decisions, especially after so many years. Still, I’m sure that my new life will be thrilling, just like the one before it was.”