Marco Simoncelli, the most exciting talent of his generation and the heir apparent to Rossi’s crown as Italy’s favourite son, has passed away after a crash in the Malaysian Moto GP. Another Sunday, another tragedy; I didn’t think there could be any more tears left to shed.
With a riding style as distinctive as his hairstyle, Marco was a hit with fans all over the globe. Riding the Gresini Honda he had shown potential in spades, already reaching the top of the pile in qualifying earlier this season and having achieved his best ever finish only last week at Phillip Island where he followed Casey Stoner over the line to take second place. With Honda very keen to nurture the 2008 250cc World Champion there seemed to be a long and successful career ahead of Marco but destiny had other plans.
We are all unique, although some of us are just that little bit more so than others. Marco Simoncelli was his own man despite the obvious parallels that could be drawn with Valentino Rossi. Blessed with good looks, humour, charm and an ability to bully a motorcycle into going faster than it wanted to, Marco’s life may have been a short one but it was one hell of a ride. After a successful junior career that netted a world title and many wins Marco spent the last two years shaking up the establishment at the top level of bike racing. He appeared to be on the verge of racking up his first Moto GP victories as he edged his way further up the field and started to tame his wild streak. This should have been his time.
The loss of the 24 year old Italian will hit the Moto GP paddock hard, one cannot begin to fathom how Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi feel today, no matter how unwitting their role in the accident may have been. Watching Rossi, my all-time sporting hero, in such a state of despair was almost as heart-wrenching as the awful accident itself. He and Marco were peas-in-a-pod, the two were friends with a lot of common ground between them. Although few could ever really rival Rossi as an ambassador of the sport, it was hard not to believe that in Simoncelli we had another Italian who could play the role of both the king and the jester.
Marco’s potential seemed limitless, he could have been the shining star of the show over the coming years. He routinely rattled his rivals with an edgy style that put down a marker post that made it clear he was not going to be overawed by the champions around him. This confidence and charisma would be nothing without the speed to back it all up, something Simoncelli had in spades. Here was a Moto GP champion in the making if ever we saw one.
The world has been denied seeing Marco blossom into an iconic superstar of sport, his Moto GP podiums this year should have been the beginning of the story rather than its final chapter. Only a week ago he appeared on the verge of going from good to great after his best ever result in Moto GP. We have been denied seeing this most exciting of racers entertain us by the cruelest twist of fate. Now only seven days on from this great moment all is lost and another cherished motorsport champion has been taken from us. The titles that surely would have been his will now be fought over by others, although Marco Simoncelli will always be in the thoughts of his friends, rivals and fans.