250GP World Champion Marco Simoncelli turned down offers last year to move up to MotoGP in favor of instead defending his title, but the young Italian rider has now announced that he intends on racing in MotoGP for 2010. While the Simoncelli has not been signed to a team, and no official interest has been made, the Italian seems to see the move as an certainty.
Simoncelli will be one of the first young talented riders to have to go through the MotoGP rookie rule, or as we like to call it, the Ben Spies rule. Under this provision, Simoncelli will have to start his MotoGP debut with first a satellite team, or with Suzuki who received an exception from the rule because of their lack of a satellite team, before he can move on to a factory supported team like Repsol Honda or Fiat Yamaha.
Don’t confuse Simoncelli’s relegation to a satellite team in his first season as an indication that the rookie rider won’t leave his mark on the series in 2010. Marco reminds us of a young Rossi, with a charasmatically playful personality, and a pension for controversy.
Winning his first 250GP found Simoncelli accused of blocking off a challenging Hector Barbera near the finish line, and this year Simoncelli has been fined for making a barging pass on Alavaro Bautista. This comboination of on/off the track antics should keep us all a little bit more interested in MotoGP, while we wait for Big Ben to make his arrival.
With some speculation on when Valentino Rossi will retire from motorcycles, its very possible that Simoncelli could fill his predecessors shoes to a “t”.