Ciao Fausto. Those are the words echoing around the virtual MotoGP paddock following the death of double 125cc World Champion and MotoGP Team Boss Fausto Gresini after a long battle with COVID-19.
The 60-year-old reportedly fell ill with the virus shortly before Christmas, before being taken to hospital in Imola on 27th December. When his condition worsened three days later, he was moved to the intensive care unit of the Maggiore Carlo Alberto Pizzardi hospital in Bologna.
He was placed in a coma and despite his condition improving in January, he subsequently caught pneumonia. His condition worsened late last week and he sadly passed away today, as revealed by his team in a statement this morning.
"The news we would have never wanted to give, and that unfortunately we are forced to share with all of you,” it read. “After nearly two months battling against COVID, Fausto Gresini has sadly passed away, few days after turning 60.
"All of Gresini Racing are close to Fausto’s family in support: his wife Nadia and the four children Lorenzo, Luca, Alice and Agnese... as well as everyone who had the chance to get to know him and love him throughout the years."
Fausto was both a successful racer and businessman, and his life had been entwined with the premiere level of motorcycle racing since 1983, when he entered the 125cc World Championship. He took his first race win at the Swedish Grand Prix in 1984, before winning the Championship in 1985 and 1987 (with 10 consecutive wins), coming runner up in the year between.
Racing until 1994, he secured 21 wins, 15 second places and 11 thirds, earning himself a position among the most successful 125cc racers of his era.
From 1997 he found himself on the other side of the catch fence, after founding his namesake team. Gresini Racing went on to win two World Championships – the 2001 250cc World Championship with Daijiro Kato and the 2010 Moto2 title with Toni Elías. Their success was, however, marred by two separate tragedies, the first when Kato was killed following a crash during the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix, and later in October 2011 when Marco Simoncelli died as the result of an accident at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Nonetheless, the team persevered and in 2018 celebrated its third world title in 2018 in the hands of Moto3 racer Jorge Martin.
After competing as becoming Aprilia's official factory entrant since 2016, Greseni late last year announced that it would once again race as an independent MotoGP from 2022.