True to speculation, Max Biaggi’s media presentation today announced the retirement of the reigning World Superbike Champion, at the ripe age of 41. A six-time World Champion, Biaggi’s latest stars to his leathers have come from his involvement in the factory Aprilia Racing team in WSBK, with the other four stars coming from his consecutive 250GP World Championships.
Winning his crown by half a point, in what will surely be the narrowest margin ever in World Superbike history, Biaggi’s last season went right down to the wire until the end of the season at Portimao, as the Roman Emperor had to fend off strong contentions from both Tom Sykes and Macro Melandri throughout the 2012 Championship.
“It ‘s been the longest night, but I’m happy to leave now. I do not want to be like politicians attached to the chair. I thought about it a lot, I said to myself continuous 1 or 2 years or I stop? And I decided to leave now,” said Biaggi during his announcement at Vallelunga, the circuit where he started his racing career.
A polarizing figure, Biaggi found himself in World Superbike after his popularity in the MotoGP paddock waned because of comments he made about HRC, which lead to the Japanese manufacturer helping route the Italian into a one-year hiatus from motorcycle racing, before returning to motorbike racing in WSBK.
The antagonist to popular riders like Loris Capirossi and Valentino Rossi, Biaggi’s role in GP racing has often be likened to the role of the villain, a casting only perpetrated further by Biaggi’s prickly and temperamental persona.
Said to be the most highly-paid athlete in the WSBK paddock, by an extra digit on the paycheck, Biaggi was also the linchpin to Aprilia’s racing effort in the premier production-based racing class. His absence next season will surely be felt by the Italian team, and his successor has yet to be named, though Sylvain Guintoli is a heavy favorite to fill the role.
Retiring to spend more time with his family, Biaggi has ruled out racing again, though hinted at some sort of collaboration with Aprilia Racing in possibly in the future — let the speculation begin on that chapter.
“The family has counted in my decision. I think I’ve taken enough time to my children and my wife and I think it is right to devote to them because time passes and you can not stop. But today I want it to be a sad day. I quit because I want to stop and not because I was not competitive,” he continued.
“I have written important pages in the history of motorcycles. I gave up a contract with Aprilia identical to that of this year, same money, same bike, but I leave with no regrets. In fact I thank all those who have accompanied me in these 20 years. It ‘was still a very hard choice, but not forced by anyone, today let stand on my legs, others had serious injuries. I’m thinking of a collaboration with the Aprilia off the track, you will soon have news about it.”
Source: Piaggio Group; Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved