With a wild afro and bold riding style, Marco Simoncelli’s presence never went unnoticed and is hugely missed today.
Affectionately named ‘Sic’ since the expected abbreviation of his surname was already used, Simoncelli’s eccentricity both off and on the track saw him grow a dedicated, worldwide fanbase.
His love for motorsport was apparent from a young age, and at seven years old, he got his first taste for two wheels. Winning the Italian Minimoto back-to-back in 1999 and 2000, and the European 125cc Championship just a few years later aged 15, Simoncelli pledged to always live life in the fast lane.
“Marco was a strong rider and always pushed hard. We raced together since we were kids and I saw him always pushing to the max.” – Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team rider.
Taking inspiration from his idol Valentino Rossi while still carving out a name for himself, Super Sic had an unapologetic and fearless pursuit of adrenaline, often deemed to be ahead of its time. The unconventional Italian became 250cc World Champion in 2008, before a one-off appearance in the Superbike World Championship with Aprilia.
In 2010, Simoncelli made his premier class debut with San Carlo Honda Gresini. The following year, he was promoted to a factory ride. Revelling in his love for the sport, Sic’s Grand Prix races saw improvisation, position swapping and daring overtakes that cemented his trademark flair.
Catalunya 2011 marked the Italian’s first ever pole, which came under controversial circumstances. Following a Le Mans race where Simoncelli and Dani Pedrosa collided, the Spaniard broke his collarbone. As a result, Simoncelli received death threats from Spanish fans and required additional security in the following round.
Sic became the villain of the Spanish race with boos all round, but not letting it affect his performance, he snatched an unpopular pole position. His wheelies, waves and evident celebratory gestures are one of the many moments that have defined his unchinked armour, optimistic attitude and colourful character.
“Someone says that God calls the best ones first; maybe that’s why he had to go.” – Paolo Simoncelli, father and Sic58 Squadra Corse founder.
Simoncelli’s first premier class podium came at the Czech GP in Brno, but it was the end of the season that arguably brought the best race performances of the Number 58’s career. In breathtaking battles to the finish, usually with fellow Italian Dovizioso, Simoncelli took several fourth places before his best career result, a second at Phillip Island in Australia.
In the two races before his final one, Sic showed signs of reigning in the contentious style that had cost him podiums, channelling his riding style to find a productive balance between sheer determination and optimum performance.
While he never got the chance to shine at the centre of the premier class podium, he won the hearts of MotoGP fans worldwide and the grief is that bit heavier when the calendar heads to Malaysia at the end of the season. Like most, we can only imagine what it would be like to see Super Sic compete today – a loss to the sport and a legend in his own right.
“Motorcycle racing brought Marco Simoncelli to his death but it also brought him to life. You can rest assured that he would not have lived it any other way.” – Matt Roberts, Sports Presenter.