WORDS: Aaron Frank
PHOTOS: Andrea Wilson
Q: You’re the defending World Champion, and just 26 years old. Why retire now?
A: Racing isn’t fun anymore. The sport is attacked constantly, by the press, the media, even the fans. Riders are abused for any mistakes. It’s just not fun, and if I’m not enjoying it, I think it’s better to open my spot for someone who will.
Q: What are your post-Valencia plans?
A: I just want some time off. I’ve been racing over half my life, without any time off. It will be really nice to unload my suitcase just once. I definitely want to work on my fly-fishing. Then I’d like to remain involved in racing of some sort—hopefully V-8 Supercars—but I’ll take time off first.
Q: You’ve ridden all three iterations of MotoGP bike: 990, 800 and 1000. Which do you prefer?
A: I’d have to say 990. There was still tire competition then, and less electronics so I could slide the bike a lot more. I think 990s were more like what real racing should be.
Q: Would limiting electronics make racing closer?
A: Electronics aren’t the problem. The problem is that the rules are always changing, forcing the manufacturers to constantly develop new bikes. That takes any closeness the manufacturers had, any competitiveness, and splits it up. When the riders are this good—barely anyone makes any mistakes—it’s hard to be competitive on an underdeveloped bike.
Q: What’s your most cherished racing memory?
A: Phillip Island, 2011. Winning the race—my fifth straight—and wrapping up the championship, all on my birthday, was very unique. That was a great day.