It is almost the time of the year where the MotoGP season rolls back to Sepang, Malaysia, on 13th October. While this season has seen the rise of Marc Marquez and the unlucky season for both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Perosa, the seemingly thought is Marc is indeed talented and fast, barring any bad luck that bestowed upon Dani, he should be able to win the crown in his debut season.
Coming back to Malaysia, it will always be remembered by the turbulent crash suffered by Marco Simoncelli. His passion for racing took away his young and promising life during the violent crash almost 2 years ago, then aged 24.
He made his debut at the MotoGP scene in mid-2002, racing for Matteoni Racing in the 125CC category, riding an Aprilia bike. Though nothing spectacular, he has always managed consistency and took the step up to 250CC in 2006. His main rivals during his 250CC class would consist of Shuhei Aoyama, Hector Barbera and Alvaro Bautista. The 4 of team were always neck to neck during races and would push each other to go even faster. Marco’s ultimate glory would come in 2008. His speed and daring maneuvers were nothing short of spectacular, and his consistency in winning races and scoring important points, ensured that his 3rd place finished at Sepang would confirmed his victory for the 2008 250CC World Championship. After another season laden with unnecessary crashes in 2009, Marco would move up to the premier class of MotoGP, riding for the San Carlo Gresini team. His consistency in scoring points in 16 out of the 18 races, ensured that he will be riding a factory bike from Honda in 2011.
Although riding for a satellite Honda team, being given a factory bike meant that he would be able to challenge for the top honours with the bigger factory teams. Marco was also predicted to be the surprise package for the 2011 season, and he never let them down. He had indeed given many people the surprises but that did not equate to race wins, as his aggressive riding style had caused himself to be involved with lots of collisions and crashes. His 2011 season comprised of a pole position in Catalonia, a 3rd place at Czech Republic, and 2nd place at Australia. It also comprised of a meeting with race direction before the Catalonia race, ride-through penalty and occasional collisions with Pedrosa.
The Sepang race in 2011 would be the last time the world saw the happy-go-lucky Marco Simoncelli riding a bike ever. A place where he had his best crowning moment in winning his 250CC World Championship in 2008, he would also meet his untimely death here at Sepang. During the race, Marco was involved in a collision with Colin Edwards and good friend Valentino Rossi. His bike was in 4th place and during a corner, the bike lost traction and it slid out towards the gravel. As commonly seen when sliding out of corner with loss of traction, it usually mean the end of the race for the rider. However Marco being the competitive guy that hi always was, he did not want his race to just end like that. Even though that he was sliding away, he was trying his best to regain traction with his throttle control. He succeeded but that was not what he had panned out to be. By regaining traction, his bike would find the grip on the cornering track and thrust him across into the path of Edwards and Rossi. Marco was struck in the lower body by Edwards and in the head and neck by Rossi, which tore off his helmet in the process. After the collision, Rossi veered off course but regained his composure and looked behind, he could only shake his head, hoping for the best for Marco.
With Marco lying face down, strewn across the track, the race was immediately red-flagged and Marco was sent to the circuit’s medical centre. It was announced less than an hour later that Marco had succumbed to his injuries, due to the severe trauma to the head, neck and chest.
Marco, with his afro and always smiling face, was always a favourite among the riders and fans. He also had gained immense respect from sports people for his athletism and personality. As a tribute to him, a tribute lap was help during the last race in 2011 by all 3 classes taking part. Rossi also rode with a Simoncelli flag in remembrance of his good friend, while Marco’s bike was ridden by 1993 World Champion, Kevin Schwantz. The Misano World Circuit was also renamed Simoncelli Circuit, in honour of the great 58, while a flame monument in Coriano, his hometown, was erected where the flame will burn every Sunday night for 58 seconds.
As we reached yet another season without Marco Simoncelli, one could have contemplate on what he could have achieve, but then it will never happen. He did showed the world that he had immense talent and speed, even comparable to his compatriot Rossi, but he would finish doing what he loved best, motor racing, however it would be too premature.