French rider Olivier Jacque announced today his immediate retirement from motor racing in the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) due to the several accidents he suffered in the past months at the wheel of his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR. His place will be taken by Anthony West.
"From the beginning of this MotoGP season I crashed on several occasions, often with severe injuries to my back, cervical vertebrae and right forearm", Jacque commented. "Right now I feel tired and physically diminished."
After a number of crashes, which have resulted in numerous injuries and missed races, Jacque has been feeling increasingly uneasy about continuing in the series.
"I find it very hard to recover from my injuries and don't feel competitive enough to ride at top level. I've invested myself a lot in this sport, but my body keeps telling me it's maybe time to move on," he added.
Furthermore, Kawasaki's regular test rider, Naoki Matsudo, is out of action due to injuries sustained earlier this year. Therefore, the decision was made for Jacque to return to full-time testing and development, an area where his skill and experience are proven and desperately needed.
Jacque has won the 250cc World Champion in 2000 racing for Yamaha and a year later made his debut in 500cc (now MotoGP) still racing on a Yamaha. After 56 Grand Prix in MotoGP, the 33 year-old rider had a second place finish in the Chinese GP of 2005, with Kawasaki.
Australian rider West will take Jacque's position on the team from now on, starting this weekend in the British Grand Prix which will be held at the Donington Park circuit.
West joins the squad, having previously ridden an Aprilia in the 250cc class with a victory in Assen in the rain. However, unhappy in that championship, he went on to make his mark as a stand-in rider for the Yamaha World Supersport team.
In just three races on the 600cc machine, West took one third place, at Monza, and two wins, at Silverstone and, last weekend, at Misano, which caught the attention of Kawasaki bosses and helped promote him to his new position in the premier class.
"I'm really pleased to be joining the Kawasaki Racing Team: they're great guys and really experienced. For the rest of the season, my aim is to be consistent, try to get some results and not to crash it straight away!" West said.
The activity for West and the Kawasaki team starts tomorrow in Donington with the practice for the British Grand Prix.