24.10.2011 MARCO SIMONCELLI 1987-2011

MARCO SIMONCELLI - SAN CARLO GRESINI HONDA - 2011 AUSTRALIAN MOTOGP AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
MARCO SIMONCELLI - SAN CARLO GRESINI HONDA - 2011 AUSTRALIAN MOTOGP AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
MARCO SIMONCELLI - SAN CARLO GRESINI HONDA - 2011 AUSTRALIAN MOTOGP AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

This year Marco Simoncelli had really stepped up a MotoGP gear and embedded himself amongst the front runners, with two podiums to his name - third in the Czech Republic and second in Australia (above) - after a string of eye-catching rides that took him to sixth place in the points standings before tragedy struck at the weekend. Photos: San Carlo Gresini Honda.

The world of motorsport has been left reeling by the death during yesterday's Malaysian Grand Prix of flamboyant young Italian rider Marco Simoncelli, one of the brightest and most talented rising stars on the MotoGP scene.

After arriving in motorbike racing's premier category in 2010, this season had seen Simoncelli really making his mark, mixing it in with the established front runners with a string of stunning rides and in the process collecting his first podiums in the Czech Republic and Australia.

Simoncelli made his debut in the Italian Minimoto Championship at the age of nine, winning back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000. In 2001 he competed in the 125cc Honda Trophy and in 2002 he was crowned 125cc European Champion. He made his 125cc World Championship debut that same season, finishing 13th as a wildcard at Estoril.

In 2003 he contested his first full season of Grand Prix racing with the Matteoni Racing Team, scoring points in six races and picking up a best result of fourth in the final round at Valencia.

The following season he wore the colors of the World Wide Race team and scored some notable results, picking up two pole positions and taking victory in a wet race at Jerez. However, a series of crashes and bad luck left him outside the top ten in the championship at the end of the season.

Having stayed with the same team for 2005 he improved his consistency to finish fifth in the championship, picking up six podiums and a victory. His performances then earned him a move up to the 250cc class with the Squadra Corse Metis Gilera outfit for 2006, consolidating his first season in the quarter-liter class with tenth place overall - a result he repeated in 2007.

Despite not having a factory bike for 2008 Simoncelli's first 250cc podiums arrived early in the season and his debut victory came in his home race at the Mugello circuit. Having established his title credentials over the opening nine races of the season Gilera decided to provide him with a factory 250 RSA for the remainder of the campaign. Simoncelli proved unstoppable on the new bike, adding another four victories to the two he already had and wrapping up the championship with a race to spare, clinching the title with third place in Malaysia.

The Cattolica native stayed with Metis Gilera to defend his title in 2009 but bad luck returned to haunt him once more. He again took victory in six of the races but a series of crashes and mechanical problems seriously hindered his progress. However, he kept the title fight alive until the final round at Valencia, where another crash left him third overall.

Last year Simoncelli stepped up to motorbike racing's premier class with the San Carlo Gresini Honda team and the highlight of a difficult rookie season was fourth place in Estoril where he actually missed out on the podium by 56 thousands of a second. This year Simoncelli had really stepped up a MotoGP gear and embedded himself amongst the established front runners, with two podiums already to his name (in the Czech Republic and Australia) after a string of eye-catching rides that took him to sixth place in the points standings before tragedy struck at the weekend.

Career highlights

2000: 1st Italian Minimoto Championship
2001: 125cc Honda Trophy
2002: 1st 125cc European Championship
2003: 21st 125cc World Championship (Aprilia)
2004: 11th 125cc World Championship (Aprilia)
2005: 5th 125cc World Championship (Aprilia)
2006: 10th 250cc World Championship (Gilera)
2007: 10th 250cc World Championship (Gilera)
2008: 1st 250cc World Championship (Gilera)
2009: 3rd 250cc World Championship (Gilera)
2010: 8th MotoGP (Honda)
2011: Currently 6th MotoGP (Honda)
 

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