Sat, Nov 05, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Simoncelli’s memory casts shadow over MotoGP finale

AFP, VALENCIA, Spain

Marco Simoncelli’s motorcycle is displayed in a pit box as a tribute to the late Italian rider at the season-ending race in Valencia, Spain, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

The memory of Marco Simoncelli will hang heavy on the season-ending Valencia MotoGP tomorrow.

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 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,” Capirossi said.

“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 said.

Despite the deep mourning the sport is in following the Simoncelli tragedy the Italian’s Gresini Honda manager, Fausto Gresini, said 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,” Gresini said. “Putting our wheels down on this track are the best homage we could pay to him.”

Participants will make a special, poignant tribute at the Ricardo Tormo circuit tomorrow morning just after the warmup session.

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 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 after crashing in the Australian GP warmup at Phillip Island.

Although the top two placings are confirmed there is still a duel for third place as only four rankings points separate Repsol Honda teammates Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa.

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