It’s been a bad month for motor sport - it can be such a cruel sport at times. On 16th October Dan Wheldon, a British IndyCar driver died from injuries sustained in a horrific multi-car pile-up at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dan was the 2005 IndyCar World Champion and won the Indy 500 that year and again this year. He was 33 years old.
Then on Sunday 23rd October I sat working on my computer with the television on, aiming to watch and enjoy the MotoGP at Sepang in Malaysia. After four minutes the race was red flagged. I’d watched but like any sports fan I had not enjoyed. Marco Simoncelli – my favourite rider after Valentino Rossi – had been involved in the most unpleasant motorcycling crash I have ever seen. It was apparent from the second it happened that this was the sort of accident of which nightmares are made. The re-start of the race was delayed and then further delayed and finally cancelled as the news came through that Marco had died of his injuries. It was the first fatality in MotoGP since Japan's Daijiro Kato crashed at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix.
Simoncelli, from Emilia-Romagna in central Italy, rode motorbikes from the age of seven, taking the Italian Minimoto title at 12. In 2008 he won the 250cc world championship with Gilera before finishing eighth in his debut MotoGP season with Honda last year. Last week in Australia he finished second and he was sixth in the championship.
Popular with fans thanks to his good looks, Jimi Hendrix T-shirts and wild hair, Simoncelli's enthusiasm for motorsport – he once said he would race for free or even pay to do to it – won him friends including his fellow Italian rider Rossi, who was in tears at the track in the long minutes before the announcement of his compatriot's death. Marco loved racing and the fans loved him. It was bad day.
Nothing will console his family but in the long run it may be possible to look back and say that he died doing something he loved and his name will live on with the fans.
2 hours ago