Marco Simoncelli 1987-2011
Marco Simoncelli’s death at the Malaysian Grand Prix has rocked the sport. He was a MotoGP star on a rise and an incredible personality – in a paddock where rider actions and quotes are often sanitised.
He was the guy with the Jimi Hendrix hair who loved Bob Dylan; the rider who defied predictions that modern GP racing was all about small guys.
‘Super Sic’ stood out, not just for his appearance, but for continuing the dare-devil tradition of Umberto Masetti and Kevin Schwantz. Full of jour de vie, he looked like he was enjoying every moment. Just read the adjectives in the tribute pages…big-hearted, charismatic, enthusiastic, fearless, friendly, fun, genuine, special and true racer.
The world 250 championship in 2008, Simoncelli recorded his best MotoGP result on October 16 at Phillip Island, finishing second to five-times Phillip Island winner Casey Stoner. During the Australian GP press conferences, he took mickey out of himself for finding three ways to crash at Turn 10.
It was part of the charm of this son of an ice cream maker. He made mistakes, lost some skin and learned. Back in May, he took a barrage of flack over the Le Mans incident with Dani Pedrosa.
Andrea Dovisioso had raced against Simoncelli since they were young kids. He marvelled at the way Marco could push to the maximum, crash and avoid serious injury; in a word, he thought his arch rival was invincible.
The Sepang accident was doubly shocking because it shown live on television and the seriousness of the outcome was immediately obvious.
Grand Prix racing has now had two race fatalities in 13 months, with same trigger. A front-end lose, followed immediately by the tyre finding grip and bringing bike and rider back onto the racing line, where the next two machines struck the rider. It happened to Shoya Tomizowa at Misano and now to Simoncelli in Sepang.
It was the first fatality in the premier-class since 2003 at Suzuka. Incredibly, Daijiro Kato was also riding a factory spec Honda for Fausto Gresini’s team. The team fought back from that loss to challenge for the world title with Sete Gibernau, but this time Gresini might not be back. His team was Marco.
In Italy, the news of Marco Simoncelli’s death even stopped Serie A football matches. He was a huge star at home.
Shine on, Marco.
By Don Cox