MotoGP Paddock Pays Tribute to Simoncelli

October 25, 2011
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Marco Simoncelli with his father Paolo outside the paddock. - Laguna Seca 2011
Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli poses with his father, Paolo, during the Red Bull USGP at Laguna Seca.

MotoGP riders, managers and teams have been paying tribute to Marco Simoncelli, the charismatic and talented rider who was tragically killed at the Malaysian MotoGP on Sunday. The Italian was seen as a natural successor to Valentino Rossi, with his youthful exuberance, sharp wit and larger than life personality.

The Italian lost his life after sustaining major head, neck and chest trauma in a second lap crash that involved Colin Edwards and Rossi. Simoncelli lost control of his factory RC212V machine at Turn 11 and was struck by Edwards and Rossi. Despite frantic efforts to resuscitate him, the former 250GP world champion passed away.

Valentino Rossi Mourns ‘Younger Brother’

Rossi was caught up in the horrifying accident on the second lap when Simoncelli lost control of his San Carlo Gresini Honda machine at Turn 11. Simoncelli suddenly veered back onto the racing line and Rossi and Colin Edwards had no time to take evasive action.

Nobody in the MotoGP field will have felt the pain of Simoncelli’s passing more than Rossi. The pair were close friends who frequently trained and socialized together and Rossi left Sepang too distraught to speak to the press but later paid tribute to his compatriot on Twitter. “Sic for me was like a youngest strong on track and so sweet in the normal life.I will miss him a lot”.

HRC Stunned by Simoncelli Tragedy

HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto has spoken of his shock and sadness after factory Honda rider Marco Simoncelli died as a result of a second lap crash in the Malaysian MotoGP race at the Sepang International Circuit. The 24-year-old was the first MotoGP rider to die since Daijiro Kato, who succumbed to multiple injuries after a crash at Suzuka in 2003. The Japanese star also rode for Fausto Gresini’s Italian-based squad.

Nakamoto said: “I just don’t know what to say; words escape me. Marco was a very nice guy and a very talented rider. Sometimes I was a little harsh with him, for example after his first MotoGP podium in Brno when I told him, ‘Lucky podium!’ and he was so angry, but I wanted to motivate him as I knew he was able to do even more. I was thinking that when he won his first race we would have been able to celebrate together. Now I just want to say thank you to Marco, for what you gave me, and pass my sincere condolences to his family at this very sad time.”

Marco Simoncelli had a crash during the first practice session but went on to finish third. - Brno 2011
Number 58

Simoncelli had just signed a new contract with HRC prior to the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month and he had impressed in his first test on board Honda’s new 1000cc RC213V machine. His death came just seven days after he scored the best MotoGP result of his career with second in Phillip Island.

Repsol Honda Trio Pay Tribute

New MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso paid tribute to their fellow factory Honda rider. The announcement of his passing sparked emotional scenes in the paddock and Repsol Honda trio Stoner, Pedrosa and Dovizioso led moving tributes that began to pour in from the motorsport community.

Stoner, who was leading the 20-lap race when it was red flagged, said: “I’m so shocked and saddened by the loss of Marco. When things like this happen it reminds you how precious life is, it makes me feel sick inside. All I can say is how sorry I am for Marco’s whole family I can’t imagine what they are all going through and our thoughts and wishes are with them at this time. I hope they all stay close and pull through this tragedy together.”

Simoncelli’s fellow Italian Dovizioso said: “In these circumstances, words don’t seem to be appropriate. I think of Marco’s family and all the people dear to him, in particular his father and mother. I also have a child and what happened today is the hardest situation you can imagine. I watched the images and I’m shocked. In a race you fight and push hard and disaster is often around the corner. Marco was a strong rider and he always pushed hard. We raced together since we were kids. I saw him always pushing to the maximum, he crashed many times, but without major injuries, he was seemed invincible. What happened today seems impossible.”

Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, who had started the race from pole position, said: “In a tragedy like this there is not much to say. I just want to give my condolences to his family and all the people who love him. I’ve been with his father and all we could do was to hug, nothing else matters. It was a fatal accident and everybody in the paddock remains in shock. Many times we ourselves forget how dangerous this sport can be and when you lose people on the way nothing has any meaning. It’s clear that we all do what we like, what we love, but on days like today nothing matters.”

Hiroshi Aoyama: It’s Like a Nightmare

Fausto Gresini and Marco Simoncelli nab another top-five finish. -  Mugello 2011
Simoncelli scored a pair of podiums and pole positions in his sophomore campaign aboard the Gresini Honda.

Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama spoke of his sorrow at the death of his San Carlo Gresini Honda teammate. It was the second personal tragedy in 13 months for Aoyama, who lost compatriot Shoya Tomizawa in a fatal Moto2 crash at Misano.

And Aoyama, who is leaving MotoGP at the end of 2011 to switch to World Superbikes with Ten Kate Honda, said in a personal message after the tragedy: “My teammate Marco crashed during the race yesterday. He was fighting hard for his life but unfortunately he passed away. I can’t think of any words to describe this tragic loss. He has been my rival since the 250s and since we both started in MotoGP class, I could feel the tension between us and we were always aware of each other as rookies. He was loved by so many people and I know why. Last week he came second and was on the podium. And this week again he was so powerful on his bike. But why? How? That is all I can think right now. I still can’t believe it. It is like a nightmare. I would like to give my condolences to Marco’s family, fans, teams and staff. Rest in peace Marco.”

Edwards Dislocates Shoulder in Sepang Crash

American Colin Edwards suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the horrific fatal crash. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team rider fell heavily from his YZR-M1 machine and dislocated his left shoulder. He underwent lengthy treatment in the Sepang International Circuit’s medical center before being released to fly home to Texas on Monday.

Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal said: “The pain was very bad but Colin was only thinking about Marco and how he was. I’m sure he realizes there was nothing he could have done. You can see the replays that he did his best to turn away from Marco, but it was unavoidable.”

A statement issued by the Tech 3 Team said: “The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and Tech 3 Racing Moto2 team extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Marco Simoncelli, who succumbed to injuries he received in this afternoon’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards was involved in the second lap incident and he suffered a dislocated left shoulder. The American has left the Sepang International Circuit to begin his recovery at home in America and his thoughts and prayers are with Simoncelli and the Gresini Honda family. RIP Super Sic – A much-loved star on and off the track.”

Nicky Hayden: It’s a Cruel Game Sometimes 

Nicky Hayden fought back tears when he spoke of Simoncelli’s passing and the American said: “It’s hard to even talk. You feel for his family, his friends, his team, but we all feel it, all of us in the paddock. At the end of the day we’re all brothers and everybody feels it for him. That guy’s going to be missed on the track and off the track. He really was a star. It’s a cruel game sometimes. Some days it can be the best of things. But sport is like that and life is like that.”

Ezpeleta: Simoncelli Death a Huge Loss to World Championship

Marco Simoncelli and friends do a track walk at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis 2011

Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta said Simoncelli’s death was a huge loss to the MotoGP world championship. Ezpeleta took the decision to cancel the race when it became apparent Simoncelli was too badly injured to survive.

“This is an incredibly sad day for the MotoGP family,” said Ezpeleta. “From the start we could see that the accident was very bad and the medical staff did absolutely everything they could. But it was very, very difficult. I was only talking with him on Saturday and now he is gone, so MotoGP is not important right now but it is a big loss for all of us.”

Jerry Burgess, legendary crew chief to heartbroken Valentino Rossi reckons Simoncelli was destined for great things in the future having started to become a regular podium contender in MotoGP.

The Aussie said: “I think he was great. Valentino got him on the right track a few years ago and told him to do a bit of training to win the 250 world championship and he did. He was a great rider, a great competitor and a great bloke.”

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