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Paolo Simoncelli

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The Italian GP at Mugello kicked off with a special tribute, as Marco Simoncelli was posthumously inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame as a MotoGP Legend. A popular figure in the MotoGP paddock, Simoncelli tragically lost his life in 2011, during the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta officially inducted Marco as a MotoGP Legend at the Italian circuit, with Marco’s father Paolo Simoncelli present. Marco Simoncelli is the latest rider to receive grand prix motorcycle racing’s honor, since Casey Stoner was inducted to the Hall of Fame last year at Phillip Island. Only 21 grand prix riders have received this honor, with Kevin Schwantz, Kenny Roberts Sr., and Giacomo Agostini being among them.

Talking to some friends the other day, who had recently watched Mark Neale’s latest MotoGP documentary Fastest, it was clear to me that the loss of SuperSic still runs deep with fans and the GP paddock alike. Gearing up for the 2012 MotoGP season, it would appear to be a done-deal that Rossi will use his Simoncelli Tribute helmet at least one or more times next season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Italian included a special tribute to SuperSic on his bike somewhere (along with his dogs of course).

While it will take sometime for the wounds of his passing to heal with his closest friends and family, the efforts to immortalize Marco Simoncelli have progressed well so far in this off-season. After the untimely death of Marco, it was announced that the non-profit Marco Simoncelli Foundation would be created to honor the lovable MotoGP racer. At the time, details of the organization, and its mission were vague, but now with its official formation, details about the charity are starting to come together.

Immediately following the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli, Fausto Gresini of the San Carlo Honda Gresini team was quoted saying that he wasn’t sure if his team could finish the Championship in Valencia without Simoncelli. With an outpouring of fans at Simoncelli’s funeral, and words of encouragement from around the world, the Italian team has decided that it will honor Marco’s memory and race in Spain this weekend.

While the #58 bike will sit in the pit box in memorial, Hiroshi Aoyama will ride the lone Honda RC212V for the Gresini team at the Valencian GP. Gresini’s Moto2 riders Michele Pirro and Yuki Takahashi will also race, as the trio will try to honor their teammate’s memory.