Chris Vermeulen no longer has the motivation to compete at the elite level.
Chris Vermeulen no longer has the motivation to compete at the elite level.

Vermeulen 'taking the next step' with his sporting career

EX-MotoGP star Chris Vermeulen is finished as a rider.

Without a permanent gig since 2011, the Yandina farm boy no longer has the motivation to compete at the elite level.

This time last year, Vermeulen - whose last contracted ride was with Kawasaki in the 2011 World Superbike Championship - was staying race fit in the hope of landing a ride.

That happened when he filled in for Forward Racing's injured American rider, Colin Edwards, at the France Grand Prix in May last year.

At the time, Vermeulen was hopeful the ride would lead to further opportunities.

About to turn 31, he is "very comfortable" with his decision.

"I don't think I have the drive and motivation (to race at the top level)," he said.

"I spent 12 years as a pro and years coming up through the ranks before that.

"I put everything on hold. Everything has to be about being faster on motorbikes.

"I still enjoy riding a bike and I'm sure I'd still go around fast, but when it comes to putting everything on the line lap in, lap out, I don't think I'm in a position to do that now. That's fair enough."

Vermeulen's decision to retire quietly is unsurprising.

He "didn't see the point" in making an official announcement.

Back living on the Coast with his English-born wife Toni, the laidback fitness fanatic was always happier to do his talking on the track.

Vermeulen said: "I had a fantastic career … I'm just taking the next step in my life.

"It's my personal thing. I'm not going to try and milk PR out of it. I'm just happy to float."

Vermeulen had one of Australia's most successful motorsport careers.

He spent five consecutive seasons in MotoGP (2005-09) with Honda and Suzuki, starting in 45 grand prix.

His sole win came at Le Mans in 2007 on a Suzuki, but he had seven podiums and three pole positions.

A noted wet-lap specialist, he lists the Le Mans triumph and his 2003 World Supersport Championship as career highlights.

He remains Suzuki's only MotoGP winner.

Since returning to the Coast, he has launched a motorbike dealership at Caloundra called Motolife, with another store set to open in Townsville.

Former 500cc star Daryl Beattie once summed up Vermeulen this way: "He's one of the nicest guys on the paddock. A gentleman."