Shadow of Simoncelli hangs over MotoGP year-ender
VALENCIA - Agence France-Presse
Casey Stoner has already taken the MotoGP championship crown in a season marred with Simoncelli’s death. AFP photoThe memory of Marco Simoncelli will hang heavy on the season-ending Valencia MotoGP on Sunday.
The young Honda rider’s death in a horror crash at the Malaysian GP has cast a pall of gloom on the sport as the curtain falls on the campaign.
Under normal circumstances - and with the MotoGP title already claimed by Casey Stoner - another Italian, Loris Capirossi, could have hoped to have been the focus of attention as the veteran will retire after the race following 22 years of World Championship action.
Former 250cc world champion Capirossi will make his 328th and final Grand Prix start and the Pramac Racing rider says he and his fellow racers are determined to pay a fitting tribute to Simoncelli.
“It will be difficult to be in the paddock without Marco, as everyone will miss him. No one will feel like going on the track, but we have to do it for him and for all fans of motorcycle racing, said Capirossi.
“It will be my final race, and I still don’t know what will be going through my head, but I want to do it as well as possible,” the 38-year-old told motogp.com.
Teammate Randy de Puniet said for his part: “It will be really difficult to race at Valencia without Marco, but part of our job is to continue.”
Despite the deep mourning the sport is in following the Simoncelli tragedy the Italian’s Gresini Honda manager Fausto Gresini, says the show must go on - and that Simoncelli would not have wanted it any other way.
“The decision was not easy but we made a choice as we think that’s what Marco would have wanted.
“Putting our wheels down on this track are the best homage we could pay to him,” said Gresini.
Participants will make a special, poignant, tribute at the Ricardo Tormo circuit on Sunday morning just after the warm-up session.
Honda’s Stoner agrees with Gresini that the race absolutely must go ahead.
“It will be difficult to resume competing this week-end but that’s without doubt the best way to honour his memory.”
Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards, who along with Valentino Rossi saw Simoncelli veer right into their path at Sepang, dislocated his shoulder in the accident and will Sunday give way to double Superbike champion and fellow American Josh Hayes.
Australian Stoner has already taken the championship crown while Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo will finish as runner-up even though he will miss the race, which he won last year, as he recovers from finger surgery afer crashing in the Australian GP warm-up at Phillip Island.
Replacing Lorenzo will be Yamaha test rider and All Japan Superbike competitor Katsuyuki Nakasuga will make his second appearance in the MotoGP premier class on behalf of 2010 World Champion Lorenzo.