until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Espargaro announces MotoGP retirement

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Aleix Espargaro has announced he will conclude his long-running MotoGP career at the end of the 2024 season.

In a special press conference on the media day ahead of his home race at Barcelona, the 34-year-old confirmed what had been reported by Spanish media and corroborated by The Race earlier in the day - that he will step aside as a MotoGP full-timer once this year's campaign concludes in Valencia.

"I'm very happy - and there are many-many-many riders in the world, in this space today, that won a lot more than me. But I gave everything I had," said Espargaro, fighting back tears but insisting he felt great "relief".

He also added: "Maybe other riders, as a present, can let me win this weekend!"


The announcement brings to an end one of MotoGP's most storied and extraordinary careers, one that spans back to the 800cc days.

First entering the premier class in 2009 as a replacement for Mika Kallio at Pramac Ducati when the Finn stepped up to factory colours to stand in for the unwell Casey Stoner, Espargaro remained onboard the then-800cc machine for four races before joining the team full-time for 2010.

Aleix Espargaro, Pramac Ducati, MotoGP

Astrong rookie season culminating in 14th in the championship with 11 top-10 finishes from his 18 races wasn’t enough to retain a MotoGP seat for 2011 and he was forced to step back to the Moto2 class for the next year.

Rejoining the premier class in 2012 with the Aspar team onboard a CRT-spec Aprilia, Espargaro enjoyed two decent seasons with Aspar - which helped ensure something of a promotion onto the Forward Racing Yamaha for 2014.

Riding bike that was supposed to be a CRT machine but was essentially a competitive M1 in disguise, he didn’t miss out on the opportunity and took it to seventh in the championship, earning himself a factory ride with Suzuki for 2015 as the Japanese firm rejoined the premier class.

Aleix Espargaro, Suzuki, MotoGP

It was there that Espargaro really showed his worth, too - not necessarily as a racer, but as a development rider. Working alongside Maverick Vinales to turn the GSX-RR into a race winner, he spent two seasons there before moving to take on another new project at Aprilia in 2017.

At Aprilia, Espargaro quickly established himself as the 'team captain', becoming the talismanic figurehead of the factory’s efforts to make the bike into a race winner - something that happened at Termas de Rio Hondo in 2022, marking Espargaro's first victory in any grand prix class after nearly two decades of trying.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, MotoGP

He went on to win twice more in 2023 - including an absolutely dominant weekend at his home track last September, where he turned a front row start into victory in both the sprint and main race.

All that work at Aprilia to transform the RS-GP means that will be the legacy of his career even more than his individual successes. It seems highly unlikely that he is going to walk away from the RS-GP project entirely either, with Aprilia expected to pursue a test rider deal for the veteran going forward.

Espargaro on his future

"For sure I will do more and more kilometres with the bicycle, which is a thing that I love.

"In terms of my [MotoGP] future, we will have time to talk about it.

"I just want to enjoy this moment. I worked very hard all my career to arrive here.

"I still have a long season in front of me, with one of the best bikes on the grid, good opportunity to fight for podiums and victories.

"So, we will have plenty of time - I think also the future now, with the changes on the regulations [in 2027], I will have some possibilities to do the testing, but for the moment I just want to enjoy and have fun.

"I have one of the best bikes. I know a lot of riders in this class today want my bike for the future, so I need to have fun for the rest of the season."

There will be another component of Espargaro’s time in MotoGP that he will be remembered for: his outspokenness and sometimes-fiery personality. Often someone who found himself at the centre of controversy both on and off the track, it’s hard to argue that he didn't add to the spectacle of the sport with his frequent outbursts - both positive and negative.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, MotoGP

With that, though, has come a desire to make the sport safer, too, with Espargaro often the leading advocate and loudest voice for the riders when it comes to issues affecting their wellbeing - a role that it’s likely he will also continue to be involved in in some way after his retirement from full-time racing.

The news of his departure at the end of the season also confirms another rumour: that Espargaro’s factory Aprilia team will be very much a key player in the 2025 silly season as it searches for his replacement.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, MotoGP

With Aprilia already believed to be very interested in securing the services of whoever loses out in Ducati’s factory seat musical chairs, Espargaro’s confirmed departure means that team boss Massimo Rivola can now concentrate on securing the signature of either Enea Bastianini or Espargaro’s close friend (and current championship leader) Jorge Martin - who was bawling his eyes out as he and the rest of the MotoGP grid went on stage with Espargaro at the conclusion of the press conference.

"For sure he's a really important person in my life," said Martin when asked about this by The Race.

Aleix Espargaro, Jorge Martin and Miguel Oliveira, MotoGP

"I remember In 2013 I was his fan, I had some photos with him. He didn't even know me.

"Then, finally, he's not only my friend, he's my brother - sometimes I'm his son, I join him for dinner with his family a lot of days in Andorra.

"He's one of the most important people in my life. How could I not cry?"

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