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Photo Credit: Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media

Reigning EnduroGP World Champion Matt Phillips has sensationally announced that he is set to walk away from the series at the end of 2017. 

Breaking the news exclusively to enduro21.com, the CH Racing Sherco rider has confirmed that he will retire from EnduroGP at the end of this season and head home to Tasmania.

“This was not an easy decision to take but one I felt I must,” said Phillips. “It's now my fifth year living in Italy, racing the Enduro World Championship and I’ve been rewarded with four world titles. 

“It's certainly been a dream run of results and I'm very satisfied to have worked respectively in two of the best teams in the business. I’ve also made many great life friends along the journey.

Not taking this decision lightly, the four-time Enduro World Champion has made up his mind largely due to the large amount of time spent away from his home in Tasmania in recent years. 

But also as a result of having become disillusioned with the EnduroGP series itself.

 

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Photo Credit: Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media
 

“The new class structure is killing the championship and hasn’t generated any extra public interest. There are less and less opportunities for private riders now — I know because many are my friends.”

“When I first came to race in 2013 the world championship was amazing,” added Matt. “Great venues, exciting racing and big numbers of riders and teams. 

“Every year since it's been getting somewhat smaller. Despite some amazing races over the last four years, I can still see a strain on the paddock.”

On the wider subject of today’s world championship, Phillips sees the need for significant change…

“We need to take the championship to the people, include them in the race, without opportunity people don't have interest. 

“By that I mean the motor clubs need to make money from running an event, local riders need the opportunity to race and be seen.”

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Photo Credit: Jonty Edmunds/Future7Media
 

What Matt will do next isn't yet clear. While racing dirt bikes in Australia will likely keep him busy in the years to come, he’s also looking at bringing the world championship to Tasmania.

“I want to bring the championship to Australia and my home state of Tasmania. I want to share it with our Aussie fans and show the level of racing in Australia on the world stage.” 

One thing that’s certain is Matt’s presence in the world championship paddock will be missed. A rider that very much did things his way, what Phillips has achieved is nothing short of incredible. 

CH Racing team manager Fabrizio Azzalin — the man who brought Matt to the world Championship in 2013 and enjoyed EnduroGP title success with him last year — had this to say.

 

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Photo Credit: Andrea Belluschi/Future7Media
 

“Early this week I received Matt’s "final" decision regards 2018. For us – the CH Racing team – and for Sherco it is something hard to accept. 

“But Matt has made his decision and there is nothing we can do. Matthew took this difficult decision for personal reasons, which he will be able to explain himself better than anybody else.

“In recent years Matthew became not only the best rider, but also one of the team’s best friends – like a son for me. For our team, riders come and go – this is a part of our job – but this time will be really difficult. 

“After five years in Europe it’s time for him to recharge the batteries with his great family in Tasmania. From our side, from Sherco side, we will miss Matt. We wish him the best of luck ever with his new way and his new life."

With three rounds of the series left to run, Matt is still very much focused on ending 2017 on a high.

“I'm still really looking forward to the rest of this season. We have been working hard with the bike and I know to expect some awesome races from now on. Portugal, the new style race in England and of course the final in Germany will all be amazing.”

“Finally I would like to say a huge thank you to all my fans and the people I've had the pleasure to work with over the last five years. 

“Especially to my Italian friends who have been a family to me and Catherine in our day-to-day lives. Thank you. It's been an epic journey.”

 

 

Reporting: Gez Morrison, Robert Lynn, Jonty Edmunds
 
 
 
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Robert Lynn
Editor