Monday, 24 October 2011

Marco Simoncelli 1987 - 2011

It was with shock and disbelief that I heard the news that Marco “SuperSic” Simoncelli lost his life during the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang track, in one of those freak racing accidents that shouldn’t happen, when his out-of-control bike crossed the path of Colin Edwards’ Yamaha and the Ducati ridden by his close friend Valentino Rossi. “Sic” was just 24 years of age.

I won’t go into the details of the accident: I’m sure that, like myself, you have all seen photographs and videos of the collision. They left me deeply shocked and terribly upset. Instead I’ll just say a few words about Simoncelli.

Marco Simoncelli was a flamboyant, larger-than-life character who – literally – stood head and shoulders above almost everyone else in the MotoGP paddock, instantly recognisable by his extravagant Afro-style hairdo, which quickly earned him the affectionate nickname of “Sideshow Bob” amongst fans, due to a certain resemblance to the character of that name in the Simpsons. His hairstyle was not his only anachronism; he was wont to wear Jimi Hendrix T-shirts in a world in which many young riders and fans alike might not even be able to name or recognise a single song by that revolutionary guitarist. He seemed to have a liking for the era of the Seventies.

This was also reflected in his riding style. He quickly gained notoriety and a reputation as a bad boy for his unforgiving, aggressive, no-holds-barred riding, having no hang-ups in swapping fairing stickers with rivals in risky overtakes that drew the wrath of other riders and of journalists (in both cases, mainly the Spanish contingent), culminating in a coming-together with Spaniard Dani Pedrosa at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans earlier this season, which earned him a talking to from FIM and DORNA officials and required that he be escorted at all times by armed bodyguards during the Catalunya Grand Prix (he apparently received death threats prior to the race at the track outside Barcelona).