Obituary: Marco Simoncelli
SEPANG, Malaysia - Marco Simoncelli, the Italian Honda rider who died here in the Malaysian MotoGP on Sunday, was a flamboyant, well-liked and talented member of the world motorcycling family.
With his distinctive afro-style mop of hair that had to be crammed into his helmet for every race he was impossible to miss when off a bike. On it, his talent ensured the spotlight was never far away.
Ironically, he experienced his finest hour on the Sepang circuit where he suffered fatal injuries in the crash on turn 11. It came on October 19, 2008, when he finished third to clinch that season's 250cc title.
He was born in the Adriatic coastal town of Cattolica, Italy, on January 20, 1987, and graduated from competing in the domestic Italian motorcycling championship to 125cc bikes in 2002 with the Aprilia team.
His first win came from pole in Spain in 2004. He moved up to the 250cc class in 2006 with Gilera, clinching the World championship two seasons later. After 12 wins in 250cc he joined the big league, the MotoGP category, in 2010 with Honda.
In May, 2011, he was involved in a controversial crash with Dani Pedrosa at the French GP in Le Mans which left Pedrosa requiring surgery for a shoulder fracture. Simoncelli was judged to have performed an illegal manoeuvre and subsequently received threats from Spanish motorcycling fans blaming him for Pedrosa's fall.
He had achieved his best result in MotoGP, second to World champion Casey Stoner, in Australia the previous Sunday. A week later his fledgling MotoGP career was cruelly cut short.
BRAVE FACE: Marco Simoncelli's italian girlfriend Kate walks through an empty Honda garage after the rider's fatal crash during the
2011 Malaysian MotoGP.
F1 driver Mark Webber led the tributes to the 24-year-old, posting a message on social networking site Twitter: "RIP Marco. A special talent that will be missed. Thinking of your loved ones and all the MotoGP paddock."
British MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow tweeted: "RIP Marco Simoncelli! A great rider and all-round nice guy. My thoughts are with all his family & friends. I will never forget today."
Reflecting on Simoncelli's horrific accident, Casey Stoner told the BBC: "As soon as I saw the footage it just makes you sick inside. Whenever the helmet comes off that's not a good sign."
BBC motorcycling presenter Matt Roberts described Simoncelli as "flamboyant, on and off the track".
He added: "When someone dies, everyone always says they loved life. But he had a very vibrant personality.
"He already had a huge fan base around the world, partly down to aggressive riding but also because he was just a cool guy. He didn't take himself too seriously and would have been a big star for 2012."
Andre - 2011-10-26 17:27
Sad,sad, very sad, been watching this lad for the passed 3 years, was a champion in the making!! RIP Marco.