Finnish racer Juha Salminen announced his retirement from racing at the end of the 2013 World Enduro Championship, capping off a career that included 13 world championships and a record 96 World Enduro Championship wins. Only the great Giacomo Agostini holds more individual motorcycle racing world titles than Salminen with 15.
“Enduro as a sport has given me a lot, but now it is time to move on to new challenges. I have set my life conditions via Enduro so long that now it is time to do something else,” says the 36-year-old Salminen. “I had several offers on a table and speedwise, I could have continue the career without any issue. I have always done my work as well as possible and work itself has motivated me. For this reason I have been able to race so long at top level. At the moment I do not want any longer commit on racing with full dedication and I want to direct my effort on new things. My personality does not allow me to stand still so I will figure out something else.”
Salminen retires as the world’s most successful Enduro racer, with 13 world titles and seven International Six Days Enduro championships for Finland. Salminen won his first world championship in 1999, capturing the World Enduro Championship’s 125cc class title with KTM. That kicked off a string of six world championship titles in the 125cc, 250cc, 400cc, 500cc and E2 classes. Over that time, he also earned the overall world championship titles from 2000-2004.
The following year, Salminen sought a new challenge and moved to the U.S. to compete in the Grand National Cross Country series. In his first season in the U.S., Salminen won nine of 13 races to win the 2005 GNCC title while also collecting accolades for AMA Amateur Athlete of the Year and GNCC Rider of the Year. Salminen successfully defended his GNCC title in 2006, winning eight of 13 races.
Salminen returned to the World Enduro Championship in 2007, winning his first 12 races en route to claiming the E1 class championship.
In 2009, Salminen left KTM to sign with BMW and finished second in the E2 class. After a lackluster eighth-place finish in 2010, BMW shelved its factory team and Salminen transferred to the German manufacturer’s then-subsidiary Husqvarna. Riding for Husky, Salminen won 10 of 16 races to win the 2011 E1 title.
“There is a saying that the first championship is the best. But myself I do not remember that any longer except from the photos,” says Salminen. “There is incredible amount of great moments in my career, that none of the single wins are not over any other. All of the moments has been great.”
Salminen’s final race will 2013 season finale Sept. 7-8 at St. Flour, France. KTM’s Antoine Meo has already cemented the title but second place is still up for grabs with Salminen holding a two-point advantage over teammate Matti Seistola.