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A profile of Marco Simoncelli - 250cc GP and MotoGP rider

By Dan Moakes
October 30 2011

 

Marco Simoncelli
nationality · Italian
born · 20 January 1987
died · 23 October 2011
grand prix début · 2002
world superbike début · 2009

The coming star of MotoGP racing, 24-year-old Marco Simoncelli was a sad loss to the sport after only two seasons at the top level when he lost his life in a crash at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. This very individual and distinctive looking young rider was the winner of a European title at the age of fifteen, his first GP victory came two years later, and he was soon a genuine title contender. Racing for Gilera, his first realistic shot at the 250cc crown did not come until his third season in the class, but he needed no second invitation. He missed out on the double in 2009, but made a big impact on his World Superbike début, and was soon making his presence felt as a MotoGP rookie the following season. His improving performances took him to the verge of a podium result by the end of the season, and in year two he was the fastest qualifier of all, bar three of the factory team riders. In the event, a podium result took a bit longer in coming than expected, but his dramatic riding certainly caught the eye - sometimes for the wrong reasons. Third in the Czech Republic and second in Australia, there was surely more to come from this very individual personality, and a full factory ride was always likely to come his way. His presence will without doubt be missed.

Marco Simoncelli - photo © Empics / PA Photos
© Empics / PA Photos

1996
Circuit racing début; runner-up in the Italian minibike championship

1997
5th in the Italian minibike championship

1998
Runner-up in the Italian minibike championship

1999
Italian Minibike Champion

2000
Italian Minibike Champion; runner-up in the European minibike championship

2001
Raced in the 125cc Honda Trophy in Italy; ninth in the 125cc Italian championship - 8th and 4th at Misano; also appeared in the 125cc Spanish championship

2002
125cc European Champion with an Aprilia; replaced Jaroslav Huleš and entered six 125cc Grands Prix for the CWF - Matteoni Racing team, with the number 37 Aprilia - this stint yielding three points from the wet Portuguese race

2003 Matteoni Racing, number 58 Aprilia
Marco’s first full Grand Prix season in the 125cc class saw a fourth place finish in the final Valencia round, from his first front row start, and this helped him into joint 20th place for the season, with 31 points in total

2004 Rauch Bravo, number 58 Aprilia
Marco’s first win was in wet conditions in Spain, the second race of the series, from his first pole position. With seven no-score races, sometimes due to his falls, his next best result was sixth place, which he achieved in three non-European races. There was a second pole position, earned in the wet at Brno, and overall his tally of 79 points left him in eleventh equal for the championship

2005 Nocable.it, number 58 Aprilia
In a year with KTM taking nine pole positions and Aprilia only two, Simoncelli was nevertheless a front row regular. The season started with his only pole and his second 125 GP win, again in Spain, and ten more top six results followed, including second in the Catalan race. He set fastest lap in Qatar, and overall finished fifth on 177 points

2006 Metis Gilera, number 58 Gilera
The move to 250cc GPs saw Marco competing with a rebranded Aprilia RSW, with Gilera’s parent group now taking ownership of Aprilia. He didn’t have front-running pace, but started from third on the grid in Portugal and was a regular in the points, with sixth in China as his best result. 92 points added up to tenth in the championship

2007 Metis Gilera, number 58 Gilera
The record was similar in 2007, even though he started without a works specification motorcycle. This time he was seventh four times, sixth in France and the Netherlands, and was tenth overall on 97 points

2008 Metis Gilera, number 58 Gilera
Marco took pole position seven times in 2008, including for six of the last eight races, taking over as fastest qualifier from his main rival Álvaro Bautistá. The season evolved with Mattia Pasini the early leader, and Mika Kallio taking over until after round nine, at which point Marco crept ahead, having started out with two no-scores. A strong second half of the year elevated Bautistá to principal challenger, but Marco was even more consistent. Six wins and six other podium results gave him the title with 281 points. Also four fastest laps

2009 Metis Gilera, number 58 Gilera
The final year of 250cc Grand Prix racing saw Simoncelli take on the defence of his title, but he had to miss the first race with a motocross injury. He was usually a top three qualifier, but this meant only three pole positions as Aprilia runners took this honour ten times. Marco’s podium run began at round three, and he won six times. Scot Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama was more consistent, however, and took the crown, with the Italian just missing out on second place to Héctor Barberá. Scored 231 points and added four more fastest laps
Also raced in World Superbikes at Imola in September, as Aprilia Racing team-mate to Max Biaggi. He was up to fifth when he fell in race one, then took third ahead of Biaggi in race two

2010 San Carlo Honda Gresini, number 58 Honda
Simoncelli joined the experienced Marco Melandri in Fausto Gresini’s Honda team for his first season in the MotoGP class, riding the 800cc Honda RC212V. He was qualifying on the third row by round five, and he would end up starting ahead of Melandri twelve times to five. The improvement he showed took him to fourth on the grid in Australia and third in Valencia, and he had come through as a regular top six finisher by that time, after a consistent start. In Portugal he just missed out on a podium with a best finish of fourth. 125 points put him eighth in the series, two places above Melandri. He was the second best rookie, although Ben Spies had made previous appearances in 2008-09

Marco Simoncelli 2011 - photo © Empics / PA Photos
© Empics / PA Photos

2011 San Carlo Honda Gresini, number 58 Honda
Marco took over as team leader in 2011, and was given a factory spec RCV which he used to rival the Repsol works riders in terms of raw pace. He started from the front row in rounds three to eight, and had pole in Catalunya and the Netherlands: podium results seemed inevitable. As early as round two in Spain a victory looked on the cards, when he was leading the wet race by three seconds, but then he managed to crash out. In France, Marco was controversially involved in an incident which saw Dani Pedrosa crash and sustain injury, which would keep the Spaniard out for three races. Simoncelli was then running second but was penalised with a pitlane ride-through and ended up fifth. Wet weather again saw him challenging for second place in Britain before he crashed, and then he was delayed in Assen after a lap one clash with Jorge Lorenzo. In between, fifth or sixth place results were frequent, and in Brno he finally came home third behind two of the Repsol Honda men. A few fourth places were then followed by his Australian result, when he was right among the Repsol trio with second place. Early in the Malaysian event when running fourth he suffered a front end fall which put him into the path of following riders. Unfortunately, his helmet came off and tragically he suffered critical injuries. Sadly his talent was not to be fulfilled as promised, but nothing can take away from a fine career as a motorcycle racer

 

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A profile of Marco Simoncelli - 250cc GP and MotoGP rider
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