Simoncelli's father pays his respects

"Marco was a very special person," says Paolo Simoncelli

PAOLO SIMONCELLI has paid tribute to his son and shown gratitude for the respects made in this period of mourning following Marco Simoncelli's fatal accident at Sepang.

The casket carrying the body of Marco arrived in Italy on Tuesday morning after the tragic accident that claimed the young life of MotoGP's rising star. Speaking to Italian media, his father Paolo said: "Marco was a very special person, and perhaps people have understood what he was like. If he had to swear he would, he was like that. Most of all he was honest, he was really pure.

"On top of that he was a warrior, and maybe that's why he died. Had he let the bike go...but last Sunday he wanted to win. He was again the Marco we had at the beginning of the season, but now he knew what to do, he knew everything."

On arrivial to the Fiumicino airport in Rome, hundreds of fans gathered to pay respects to his son. Expressing his gratitude, Paolo said: "Honestly I couldn't believe it: it would be bullshit if I said I'm happy, but it pleases me. We didn't realise all this, but it's a very nice thing.

"Tomorrow evening, after the end of the funeral, we'll be alone. It'll be terrible. But now I have you and all the people that come visit us. That can only please us.

"Marco was always available with all the journalists, as with all the people that would come to disturb him while he was eating. In fact he would scold me when I complained. That's how he was.

"Marco was never judged badly, he was always judged for what he was and for the way he presented himself. I loved him, and he loved me. Marco was great and that's it. What a shame.

"He needed everything around him to work. He needed Aligi Deganello - his guru and chief technician - his team, and his dad, who would piss him off sometimes, as he would say. Before the start we would shake hands and hug. I did that on Sunday too, but I guess I got something wrong. It didn't go as usual.

"He enjoyed all the simple things he had: he liked his house, his dog, the grass... in fact on Sunday he told me 'I'm tired, I want to go back home', because we had been away to prepare for Malaysia, which for him has always been difficult: nutrition, he took an ice bath to cool down before the race... It was perfect, he was sure he would do well. But he told me 'I want to go back home, dad.'"

Paolo was amongst the first to arrive at the scene of the crash as Marco was being lifted to the stretcher and carried to the ambulance, he placed no blame on the course workers who dropped his son on the way to the ambulance, "I was thereabouts, but Marco was dead already. I was 10 metres away, but Marco was already dead, it changed nothing.

"I helped them: when they got back up and passed the stretcher over to my side of the guard rail I took the stretcher to place it in the ambulance and held Marco's hand and called him 'Ciao Marco', but he was gone already.

"There was nothing that could be done. Nothing would have changed in that case. As for the rest, maybe more (attention) is needed, but these people try to do their best, so it's useless... But in our case Marco died on impact.

"They say God summons the best to heaven. I don't know. I wish that's how it is."

Simoncelli's funeral will take place on Thursday in a private function for family, friends, fellow riders and team members.

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