FORMER Coventry captain Greg Hancock has announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 49.
Greg, who was a four-time World Champion, was also a hugely popular figure at Brandon where he spent a five-year stint between 1997-2001, the first of which saw him also take his maiden individual title.
His last racing appearance at the venue came in the 2012 Brandonapolis, the season after he clinched his second World crown. Further World titles followed in 2014 and 2016 in what was a stellar career virtually unmatched in longevity.
The announcement was made by the Speedway Grand Prix organisers, as they confirmed Hancock would not be taking up his place in the 2020 World Championship:
FOUR-TIME WORLD CHAMPION HANCOCK ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT AFTER ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER
Greg Hancock, the four-time world speedway champion, has announced his retirement after a glittering career which marks him out as one of the greats of the sport.
The decision to retire to spend more time with his family means that the Californian will not compete in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series in 2020.
The announcement follows Hancock’s withdrawal from the FIM Speedway Grand Prix series of 2019.
“Over the last 12 months of missing a full racing season, I've had much time to reflect on my amazing career. Racing at the highest level, winning four World Championships, Team and Pairs World Championships amongst many domestic league championships, were amongst the most challenging and successful times of my life to date,” Hancock said.
“This last year taking care of my wife and family became life-changing in many ways and put life into a new perspective. I am pleased with my racing achievements and believe it is time to move on to a new chapter. As difficult as it is to make a decision like this, it is the right one.
“Although I am stepping away from the racing part, I do not plan to exit the scene. I have plans that will keep me close to the sport and we’ll see where that goes in the weeks ahead.”
Hancock, 49, is the only rider who has been part of the SGP line-up every year since the series was launched in 1995. Up until September 2014, he raced in each and every SGP event staged – an unbroken run of 177 appearances.
He has made 218 SGP appearances in total and scored 2,655 points from 1,248 heats – both records. Two more records he holds are the most heat wins at 455 and his 92 SGP final appearances.
One of his most notable feats was winning his first world title in 1997 and claiming his second in 2011 – 14 years later.
The longest break between title wins was previously seven years. He also won three of his titles after turning 40, making him the oldest champion ever.
Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports Events at IMG, praised Hancock’s contribution to the sport.
“Greg has been an incredible servant and a wonderful ambassador for the sport of speedway on and off the track over many years. He leaves a massive legacy for speedway globally,” he said.
“Not only was Greg an outstanding competitor, underlined by his four world titles and numerous national and international honours, he is a fan favourite the world over and a role model for riders coming through the ranks. He is also a thoroughly nice man who has been unstinting in his efforts to give back to the sport.
“We wish Greg, his wife Jennie and the family all the best for the future.”
Armando Castagna, the FIM Track Racing Commission director, added: “Greg Hancock’s retirement is a big shock for the speedway world and he will be missed a lot by everyone.
“The FIM understands and supports the reasons for his announcement and we are close to him and his family in this hard decision.
“I'm sure Greg will not leave the speedway world completely and I'm also sure that he will remain involved in track racing.
“His experience, knowledge, charisma and advice will be welcome, in any position he will take in the future inside the sport. As a personal friend, I wish him all the very best for the future.”