Jorge Lorenzo is seeking to close in on his second MotoGP world title at the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend where emotions will be running high following the death of Italian rider Marco Simoncelli in an accident last year.
Simoncelli’s Honda team principal Fausto Gresini told reporters yesterday: “It left a void that can never be filled. Marco was a special person to all of us and we miss him a lot.”
The popular Simoncelli died in a horror crash at last season’s race in Sepang after being hit by the bikes of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi as he slid across the track.
The race was immediately stopped and then canceled.
“With heavy hearts we will give our best this weekend to honor his memory,” said Gresini, who also lost Japanese rider Daijiro Kato in a gruesome crash at Suzuka in 2003.
World champion Casey Stoner said it would be a difficult weekend for the riders.
“This weekend marks the anniversary of Marco’s death, so I’m sure it will be a strange feeling when we all get on the track,” the Australian said.
A bronze plaque is to be fixed at the scene of Simoncelli’s accident at turn 11 in memory of the rider, organizers said.
Dani Pedrosa’s victory in Japan last weekend kept his slender title chances alive but Spanish compatriot Lorenzo leads the standings by 28 points with three races left.
“I’m really enjoying racing at the moment and I want to continue like this, pushing the maximum from our side without thinking about the others,” Pedrosa said.
Four wins in the last five races for Pedrosa has given Lorenzo something to think about but the championship is still the Yamaha rider’s to lose.
Lorenzo, the 2010 champion, can finish third in the last three races and still win the title regardless of where Pedrosa finishes.
“We must stay very focused and put on a good show this weekend,” Lorenzo said.
“The track is more suited to our bike than Motegi so we’ll be aiming for the best possible result,” he said.
“Sepang is a track with difficult memories for all of us from Marco’s tragic accident last year,” he said.
“It is also a track which has very good memories for me from 2010 when I became world champion,” Lorenzo said.