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GP Week : Issue 34
5 Minutes with ... Marco Simoncelli He’s tall, fun, has a big voice and even bigger hair – he’s Marco Simoncelli. He’s also the 2008 250cc World Champion. MICHAEL SCOTT spoke to the Italian MARCO SIMONCELLI: Easy questions please, in English. GPWEEK: Okay. Tell us a bit about where you are from, your background. I am from (long pause) Italy (laughs). I live in Coriano – it is near Rimini, in the Emilio Romagna. And how come you race motorbikes? Because my father was a great motorbike fan, and so when I was seven years old he bring me to test a pocket bike, a minibike. And from that day, start my career. Were you good from the beginning? Yes, yes. I was good from the beginning. In my first year of the Italian championship I finished second. The year after this, two times fourth. I was a protagonist. This was on a big bike, rather than a minibike. When did that start? I was in the 125 Honda Trophy in 2001. I was 14 years old. And it was my first year with a big bike. And in 2002 I made the European championship, and I won the championship. The same year I did the last five GP races on a 125, and in 2003 all the races, with Team Matteoni. I won two times in 125, in 2004 and 2005, always in Jerez. And in 2005 I got also some other podiums. Until this season, that was my best in the World Championship. Exactly, when you came to 250 in 2006 the results didn’t follow. Yes, because I had some problem in the first year with my team. It was the Rosanno Brazzi team, and I didn’t have a good feeling with them. No good relationship. And I did not have good results in the first season. But last season, 2007, I had a good season. But the results were not so good. But something was changing, and in the last races of 2007 I was very fast. I can maybe get the podium in Australia and here in Valencia, but I was a little bit unlucky. But I was very fast. What is the strongest part of your riding? I’m a fast rider. And I’m a very, very difficult 18 rider for the others, when I fight with them. I don’t know what can I say, but I’m hard. I don’t give presents to them. I do my 100 percent in the battle. For me I am strong. Do you mean you’re very aggressive? Yes. I am aggressive. But are you dangerous? No. For me, I don’t think so. I think only that I am very, very aggressive but I am a correct rider. There were several incidents this year, but each time Race Direction said you were okay. Yes, there was the incident in Mugello with Hector Barbera. Race Direction said: okay, but in the next races in the straight you have to pay attention. You can’t do this changing of line. For me, my move was correct, but a little bit dangerous. Bautista complained in Donington, when you went inside him and forced him wide. For me, Donington never happened. I tried to pass Alvaro and I went in the corner a little bit faster, and I went out of the ideal line. But it’s a normal race action for me. We didn’t touch. For me it’s a normal thing in a race. And there was more at Misano, with you and Barbera again. Misano was a very difficult race, because Hector Barbera was very aggressive, and for me not correct. Because he … didn’t try to touch me, but he touched me. And when he overtook, also he didn’t make the corner. He also went out. That isn’t the correct way to do the race. Is Hector dangerous? For me, yes. This year I had many fights with Alvaro Bautista, and they were hard fights. Very aggressive, but for me correct and I think also for him. And they were good races. With Barbera this is not possible. Do you ever get scared? No. No. I had a little bit fear in Misano when But you will be gone by then. What are your MotoGP plans? In 2009 I stay in 250 with my team, that is a great team. In 2010 maybe it is possible that I come to MotoGP. With which team? Yamaha, perhaps? Now I don’t know (laughs). But I want to pass to MotoGP in 2010. Your hairstyle is pretty unusual. What’s it all about? Did you decide to grow it until you became champion? Just because I like this cut. There is no particular reason. It’s very 1960s. And your celebration T- shirt, saying “Live World Tour”, was a copy of a Jimi Hendrix shirt. You like Jimi? My t-shirt is a tribute to Jimi Hendrix and Barbera was behind me. I had to go into the corner with one eye in front, and one eye behind to control him. At Germany you got the factory bike, the Aprilia RSA. How much difference was that? The RSA is a great bike. Better in all respects than the LE (production model). That is a good bike, but this is better in all things. Why did they not give you that bike before? I don’t know (Laughs). You have to ask the managers of Aprilia. You have some connection with Rossi – what is it? Rossi is my friend. And when we are at home we train together. Sometimes we ride motocross together. And sometimes he gives me some precious suggestion. And I hear him a lot … some advice, and suggestion about the race. The 250 class is soon to come to an end. What do you think of that? For me the 250 is a great bike, because it is a prototype, and it is difficult to ride well. The 600 – I don’t know. For me, it’s better to remain 250, but it seems not possible.