Jonah Street Withdraws From Dakar

Cycle News Staff | January 3, 2012

Jonah Street has not only withdrawn from the 2012 Dakar Rally after encountering mechanical problems during yesterday’s second stage of the 14-stage event, but he’s also announced his retirement from rally racing.

Street, a six-time competitor in the Dakar Rally, was one of America’s best hopes for a top finish.

“I don’t really know what happened with the bike, yet,” Street said in a team release. “It’s something electrical for sure. It started acting up at about 220 km [136 miles] into the special test today, and then at about 224 km [138 miles] the bike died. It took me about three hours to get from that point to the 256 km [159 miles] mark. From there, it just kept getting worse – going only a tenth of a kilometer at times and waiting sometimes for 15 minutes to get it fired again. At 256 km there was a turn where I could go into the village where the finish line was for the day or I could turn and go through the sand dunes to attempt to finish the stage. I knew the bike wouldn’t make it through the dunes so, unfortunately, the Dakar rally ended for me right there.”

While the Yamaha GYTR rider was clearly down about his race coming to a sudden stop, he remained positive and took the opportunity to deliver an important message to his fans, supporters and followers.

“I’m officially retiring from rally racing,” Street said. “I believe now is an appropriate time to make this announcement in a positive light despite today’s events. The most important reason to do this, for me, is that now is the time people are tuned into Dakar. For my supporters, sponsors, family and friends that work year-round to get the recognition they deserve, expressing my sincere gratitude now is the right thing to do.

“It’s an endless venture to try to find the right race budget as a privateer to do Dakar right. The budget I really need to compete is never there – never has been – and so I am generally broke all year. If I told you that fact didn’t have a lot to do with my decision, I would be lying. I have a great family of supporters behind me that have made my six Dakar starts possible. The RiffRaff members are my number one monetary sponsor each year and my friends and family are the heart of my team. Yamaha stepped up in a big way the last two years and without their help my last stage win and the start of this rally definitely wouldn’t have happened. These types of efforts are above and beyond. I will never be able to fully repay or thank everyone that has made my career so spectacular. But I’ll keep trying.

“If you consider the fact that I’m not 20 years old anymore and the lingering effects of injuries keep me less-than 100 percent every day, the reality of me competing at the highest level starts to diminish. This is a sport where you need to be 100 percent in all aspects: Budget, machinery, and health – the whole deal. I can’t be 100 percent right now and running a top-position pace without being 100 percent is drastically unsafe. I’ve raced in 26 countries, I think. I’m one of only three Americans to win multiple stages of Dakar. I’ve met thousands of amazing people. I’ve had a ton of fun and been tremendously lucky. Yes, I’m obviously bummed about today and the way this Dakar has gone, but I can honestly say that I am extremely happy with everything I’ve done in rally racing and the great people I’ve worked with. I’m not leaving anything on the table, I’ve worked very hard at this and can walk away content, happy and confident that the last seven years of my life have been the best any motorcyclist could ask for. I wouldn’t change a thing – it’s been a dream-come-true. Thank you to all my sponsors, past and present, for their tremendous efforts along with everyone that has supported me. I’m truly thankful and hope to speak with you very soon.”