Marco Simoncelli, 1987-2011

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Marco Simoncelli wasn’t your average 21st century MotoGP rider. He was a throwback to the old days: scruffy and wild, always determined to barge his way to the front, never mind who was in front of him.

The tall, ambling Italian approached his sport with a gladiatorial swagger, convinced that it’s as much about the battle as it is about the lap time. “The fight is the most beautiful thing about bike racing,” he told me last June at Silverstone.

Simoncelli’s death during October’s Malaysian motorcycle Grand Prix left MotoGP dumbstruck. The former 250 World Champion was on the verge of winning his first race in the class of the kings. The previous weekend he had finished a best-ever second at Phillip Island, a position he won with a typically robust move on Andrea Dovizioso during the final lap.

He was such an exciting rider, all knees and elbows on his Honda RC212V, making the bike look like a 125. He was one of those racers with whom you always rode shotgun, sitting on the edge of the sofa, willing him on, praying the front wouldn’t tuck, hoping he would find a way past the rider in front. He usually did.

In recent years MotoGP has had a tendency to produce somewhat processional races. Due to various technical factors, most riders struggle to find room to overtake their rivals, but Simoncelli made sure he found room. If he saw a chink of light between the kerb and the rider in front, then he went for it.

“At this moment in MotoGP there are two styles of rider,” he said in June. “There is the old-style rider – me, [Valentino] Rossi, [Ben] Spies, [Colin] Edwards, [Loris] Capirossi, [Randy] de Puniet and maybe some others. And then there are the others – [Jorge] Lorenzo, [Casey] Stoner, Dovizioso and [Dani] Pedrosa. For me the right way to go racing is like the old-style racer, I don’t like the new style.”

Simoncelli’s aggression and willingness to take risks got him into trouble and made him some enemies, most notably Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Dovizioso. But not everyone in MotoGP considered his riding style to be beyond the pale. “I don’t think Marco is overly aggressive – he just enjoys the fight,” said Edwards a few months ago. “You don’t bring gladiators to the opera.”

It wasn’t only Simoncelli’s gung-ho style on the race track that set him apart and made him so popular. Away from the track he was a very different man: warm, open and lacking any artifice. He seemed like a straightforward human being and was always a great interview – confident in himself and happy to say good things and bad things about his rivals, those long arms flailing around to emphasise every point. One of the first times we spoke his whirling hands made contact with my voice recorder, launching it to the other side of the Gresini pit. As it landed with a clatter he was already laughing and saying sorry, that unruly mane of hair shaking atop his shoulders.

Simoncelli started out racing minimotos, those Lilliputian motorcycles that have been the standard kids’ gateway into bike racing since the early 1990s. His interest in motorcycles had been sparked by his father, Paolo, who owned an ice cream business in Cattolica on the Adriatic coast, the crucible of Italy’s racing talent.

Twice Italian minimoto champion at the turn of the century, Simoncelli moved onto 125s, taking the Italian and European titles in successive years. He rode his first full World Championship season in 2003, winning his first race, still in the 125 class, the following year. He graduated to 250s in ’06 but struggled to master the machines. Only when he received full-factory bikes in ’08 did he turn the corner – he won his first 250 GP and went on to take the 250 World Championship.

Last year Simoncelli made a crunching entry into the premier class (who doesn’t?) but by season’s end he was scoring front-row starts and battling for podiums. This year he took his first pole position at Catalunya and his first podium at Brno. He was due to race a full-factory 1000cc Honda RC213V in 2012.

The extent of Simoncelli’s popularity was such that F1 remembered him – and late Indy driver Dan Wheldon – with a minute’s silence at the Indian Grand Prix.

You may also like

Related products