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2011-10-27 11:28

FINAL GOODBYES: A fan places a bouquet at a memorial bearing the number 58 as crowds gather in Honda rider Marco Simoncelli's home town to pay their last respects ahead of his funeral on Thursday.

CORIANO, Italy - More than 10 000 fans lined up in the rain on Wednesday to pay their final respects to MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli during a public viewing in the city theatre of his home town.

Simoncelli died of chest, head and neck injuries after he lost control of his Honda during Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix and swerved across the track, straight into the path of American rider Colin Edwards and seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi of Italy.

Behind Simoncelli's body were placed two motorcycles - one that he won the 250cc championship with in 2008 and another that he rode this season. Simoncelli's number, 58, was plastered all over town on banners.


At 24, Simoncelli was a rising star in the sport and with his trademark mop of curly hair was beloved by Italy's legions of motorcycle racing fans.

"Maybe even we didn't realise how much he was loved. We thought we knew but the outpouring of people has really been huge," said Fausto Gresini, Simoncelli's team manager, according to the ANSA news agency.

"It's really nice to see, even if we have too much pain inside."

Simoncelli's funeral on Thursday, October 27, will be broadcast live on Italian state TV RAI. Fans are being told to gather at the nearby Misano Adriatico circuit, the site of the San Marino GP, to watch the funeral on giant screens.

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