Aleix Espargaro confirms MotoGP retirement at end of the season

Aleix Espargaro confirms MotoGP retirement at end of the season

Aprilia MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro has announced he will retire at the end of the 2024 season.

Three-time race winner Aleix Espargaro has confirmed that he will retire from MotoGP at the end of 2024 in a special press conference on Thursday.

The Spaniard made the announcement on Thursday afternoon ahead of his home Catalan MotoGP in Barcelona, where he won both the Sprint and main races last year. The 34-year-old decided to make his retirement announcement at his home grand prix in Montmeló after he had been considering it since the beginning of the season.

“At the end of this season I will retire from MotoGP as a full-time rider,” he said. “It has been a nice journey and I enjoyed it a lot so thank you everybody!

“I am very happy and you know there are many riders who have won more than me and I have worked very hard to reach a high level.

“It has been a wonderful 20 years in this paddock and I am very happy and proud of what we have achieved together with Aprilia. Seeing all these memories these last two or three seasons were amazing. I mean, I was dreaming.

“One of the reasons why I decided to stop was because for me, it’s enough, I have many fans and I want to retire with good feeling. I’m extremely happy. It hasn’t been an easy week as it feels like I was jumping in a really strange place but I’m very happy.

“I tried to be fair with myself. I felt maybe I would like to stay a bit more time at home, I would love to stay with my kids and live my home life. I am fair with myself. If you are not 100% focused on being a MotoGP rider today is very difficult to be on top so this is why I have taken the decision [to retire].”

At the time of his Aprilia’s contract signing two years ago, Espargaro acknowledged that he expected it to be his final and it expires at the end of the year, although he told the media at the Americas GP that he was still unsure about his 2025 plans.

Espargaro never challenged for championships in any of the four bike categories he raced in—125cc, 250cc, Moto2, and MotoGP—but he was always prominent and rose through the ranks to become an elite rider over the course of almost two decades of racing.

Espargaro made his MotoGP debut in 2009 at the Indianapolis GP as a backup rider for Pramac Ducati, finishing 13th in his first race and earning points. That year, he would make a total of four outings, all of which resulted in points, before committing to Pramac full-time for 2010.

Following an injury-plagued season in which he finished eighth, Espargaro returned to the Moto2 class in 2011 and finished 12th overall in the standings after taking his maiden grand prix podium at Barcelona.

He made his MotoGP return in 2012, riding an Aprilia-powered CRT bike for the Aspar team. He finished the season as the leading CRT rider, having scored in all but two of the races. He later inked a factory deal for 2015 to join the Suzuki project, which was still in its initial stages and he would be riding alongside current Aprilia teammate Maverick Vinales.

While failing to achieve race wins like Vinales, Espargaro remained to be a steady top-eight competitor on the bike and played a key role in the development of the GSX-RR that would go on to win the championship with Joan Mir in 2020.

After moving to Aprilia’s factory project in 2017, Espargaro spent his first three seasons making the most of a bike that was rarely thought to be up to MotoGP standards. He considered retiring after a very challenging 2019, but he decided to stay with Aprilia into 2020.

Staying loyal to the Italian brand, he endured the challenging few seasons until 2021, when the bike’s overall competitiveness drastically changed. To his glory, he was able to secure a podium at Silverstone in 2021—almost seven years after his debut—in Aprilia’s first MotoGP and second in his career.

Espargaro proceeded to claim his first victory in the MotoGP era and a first for Aprilia in his 200th premier-class start in the 2022 Argentine Grand Prix. He placed fourth in the championship that year and made five further podium appearances.

The Spaniard’s achievements with Aprilia expanded further in 2023 with him winning at Silverstone in a heated last lap battle with reigning double world champion Francesco Bagnaia, with his last win to date in front of his home crowd at Catalunya.

Espargaro’s team-mate Maverick Viñales heaped praise on the veteran, stating how much he has enjoyed working with him since he joined the team in 2021.

“Aleix is a great teammate,” Vinales said. “We have spent four years together and lived unforgettable moments.

“Together, we take Aprilia to the top, I have great memories with Aleix. We still have a year ahead of us to take Aprilia even higher together.”

Aprilia team boss Massimo Rivola highlighted how important Espargaro has been to the team’s success in moving up the grid and reflected about the good times together.

“Thank you Aleix, because with you we have built an incredible story,” he said. “Thank you for not giving up in difficult moments and for being a great example for all of us.

“You won the captain’s armband on the field by merit. You gave us the first podium, the first pole position, the first victory here in Barcelona and the first one-two with Maverick.

“Your spirit, with your ups and downs, with your character, reflect the energy of this team and of the whole Noale factory.

“I don’t know what you will do in the future, but you will always remain an Aprilia rider.”

It is unclear who will take Espargaro’s place at Aprilia in 2025, but there are rumours that the Italian brand is keeping an eye on Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini, and Marco Bezzecchi. Espargaro was again credited by Rivola for playing a crucial role in the team’s development into one of the leading outfits and for helping secure a great future for the squad.

Leave a Reply