Whitham announces his retirement

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World Supersport racer Jamie Whitham has quit racing for good.

The 37-year-old is suffering from glaucoma, an eye disease which doctors fear may have been caused by the chemotherapy he underwent for Hodgkin’s disease in 1995.

Best wishes for Whitham’s retirement have been pouring onto our message boards, as fans share their best memories of Whitham’s 20-year career. Here’s a few of the messages, but to post your own, just follow the link on the right.

Jonny says: " I first saw Jamie on the lardy Mick Grant gsxr750 in the late 80s/ early 90s hanging off in that familiar style of his battling against far superior machinery and winning. . He is as talented as Foggy , Hislop or even Bayliss without a doubt. "

Redave46: " He has shown over the years what big cahoonas he's got, just returning from some of the big crashes he's had shows balls enough, but this must rank alongside the biggest decision he's ever had to make. "

Munch955: " One of the best riders not to have won a championship. "

Colinclegg: " Maybe a commentary job awaits, so that we don't miss that famous Whitham wit! "

Beep: " Racing will be a poorer sport without your antics to entertain the crowds. Marshals around the world can breath a sigh of relief they can now watch WSS races in relative peace now. Have a great retirement.

Whitham, who was due to race the new R6 for the factory-backed Belgarda Yamaha team in 2003, said: " I tested the new R6 again at Valencia last weekend for the first time in decent conditions and I realised I couldn’t race safely. "

" I just can’t give that last 10% with any confidence. I wouldn’t want to put myself or anyone else in danger, and Belgarda deserve to have a rider who is 100% fit. I know the bike is going to be good enough to win the championship, so it’s important they have the best rider. It’s been a really hard decision to make I’ve been racing all my life and all my friends are in racing. I know I’ve got to be philosophical, but I’m really going to miss it. "

" I have had laser treatment and been using eye drops every day, throughout the winter, but irreversible damage has already been done to my eye. "

In a strange twist of fate, Whitham’s teammate, Paolo Casoli has also announced his retirement. His retirement follows injuries sustained in a heavy testing crash last November. Although Casoli is completely over the trauma, the tissue damage from the crash could lead to serious complications in the event of another crash. As Casoli can otherwise lead a normal life, he has decided to call it a day. " The doctors told me that if I crashed again I could have big problems and ruin my future. In 2003 I would have had a very fast Yamaha, new tyres and the ambition to win the Supersport World Championship. But I have to think about my family too, they are the my main reason for life. So I prefer to stop. "

Jurgen van den Goorbergh will now ride for the Belgarda team for 2003. Van den Goorbergh has already tested with the team, deputising for Paolo Casoli. The Dutchman made his 250cc GP debut in 1991, and has finished top privateer in the 250cc and 500cc World Championships on four occasions.

Belgarda will also test with 24 year-old Italian Simone Sanna at the end of January. Sanna previously raced in the 125cc Grand Prix championship.

See MCN, out on Wednesday, January 29, for the full story and our exclusive interview.

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Sport…

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff