Marco Simoncelli has passed away today as a result of injuries sustained in a crash on lap 2 of the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.
Marco was a champion at 250cc level and a podium finisher this season in MotoGP. He was making a name for himself as a star not just of the future but of today. Sure he had some run-ins and disagreements with some of the others but that was fine, part of the appeal of MotoGP is that it has big characters willing to say and do what they think. There weren’t many with a bigger character than Marco Simoncelli.
You always knew when you were watching Simoncelli, he had a way of riding which was different to everyone else on the grid. Trying different lines through corners, inside the guy in front, outside, this way and that. Sometimes it went too far and he went off. He’d gained a reputation as a bit of a crasher, until recently that is.
After a trying early part of the year with just a few too many fairly minor crashes, he had recovered his form posting a string of 4th-places, and just one week ago he’d recorded his best ever MotoGP finish, 2nd place at Phillip Island in Australia. Everyone thought he’d ironed out the crashing, and perhaps he had. Some tipped him as a World Champion of the future, perhaps even as soon as 2012.
It wasn’t the fall from the bike which cost him his life today, it was the following racers being unable to avoid him. Something will need to be done to prevent accidents such as this and the similar Moto2 accident last year which claimed Shoya Tomizawa.
But that is not how we want to remember either rider. We want to remember how they raced, and their personalities, and their positive effect on the paddock and on MotoGP and racing as a whole.
Here’s Simoncelli’s press conference interview from last week in which he was his normal smiling, bubbly effusive self. Much like Dan Wheldon, you rarely saw Marco Simoncelli without a smile.
Two big losses in the space of a week, the motorsport world is in shock. This off-season cannot come soon enough.