End of an era: MotoGP legend announces his retirement
DANI Pedrosa has announced that he will retire from MotoGP.
In an emotional press conference on the eve of this weekend's German Grand Prix, the 32-year-old Spaniard confirmed the 2018 season would be his last in the world championship.
"Next year I will not compete in the championship," Pedrosa said.
"This means I will finish my career in MotoGP this season."
Pedrosa's decision came after he was told his services would not be needed at Honda's factory squad after 13 seasons in the premier class - the end of a relationship that covered all 18 years he has raced at world championship level.
He had been expected to announce his retirement at the Catalunya Grand Prix a month ago, but Honda's shock signing of Jorge Lorenzo as his replacement opened up a possible 2019 ride at the new Sepang Petronas Yamaha squad.
However, after much thought, Pedrosa elected to head gracefully into retirement rather than race on, admitting he simply felt he no longer had the same drive and intensity as in years past.
"This is a decision I've thought about for a long time and it's a hard decision because this is the sport I love," he said.
"But despite having good opportunities to keep racing, I feel like I don't live racing with the same intensity as before and I now have different priorities in my life."
In his peak, Pedrosa was regarded alongside Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo as one of the sport's "aliens" - one of the chosen few who possessed an other-worldly talent to ride a MotoGP machine at the limit and win.
Yet of that group, only Pedrosa will head into retirement almost certainly without the MotoGP world championship he has pursued for so long.
He arrived in the premier class in 2006 off the back of a 125cc title and a pair of 250cc crowns earnt in consecutive years.
Although he has won a race in each of the past 16 seasons of his career - dating back to the 2002 125cc season - and challenged for the title, the sport's ultimate prize proved elusive.
He finished second behind Stoner in 2007 and lost out to Lorenzo in 2010 and 2012.
The latter was his closest call - just 18 points separated the pair after the Valencia finale, with Pedrosa's challenge scuppered by a freak brake problem on the sighting lap at Misano, before a crash while leading at Phillip Island handed the title to Lorenzo.
There were other lost opportunities when injuries struck him while at the peak of his form.
A block from the late Marco Simoncelli at Le Mans left Pedrosa with a broken collarbone in mid-2011, while Marc Marquez's path to his rookie title in 2013 was eased by Pedrosa breaking a collarbone in practice at the Sachsenring.
Nagging issues with arm-pump (chronic exertional compartment syndrome) blunted his performances in recent years and he eventually underwent drastic surgery in early 2015.
On his day, Pedrosa is still unbeatable, as his recent wins at Sepang (2015), Misano (2016), Jerez and Valencia (2017) illustrated.
"I would like to express how fortunate I feel to have had this experience and these opportunities in my life," he said.
"It's been an amazing life to have been racing for such an important team and in front of all the fans.
"I achieved way more than I expected and I'm very, very proud of what I've done in the sport. I've fulfilled my dream of becoming a racer and that's something that I didn't expect when I was a kid watching TV, watching riders in the world championship.
"I would like to take this time to say thanks to Dorna and to Honda for giving me this opportunity way back in 1999, and to all my sponsors who've been with me throughout my career.
"I would like also to say thanks to my family, and to all the fans who supported me throughout my career and through the thick and thin, who helped me sending so many messages to overcome difficult things in the past."
Dorna revealed that Pedrosa would be granted Legend status, adding him to the sport's hall of fame, at the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix that will be his final race.
- with AAP
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