He fought fiercely for almost two months, but COVID-19 eventually defeated the lion Fausto Gresini. At the age of 60, the former driver and director of Gresini Racing died at the Maggiore hospital in Bologna where he had been in intensive care since December 30. He was transferred there after the first three days of hospitalization in Imola, quickly entrusted to a service more at the forefront of the delicate treatment of the disease which had struck him shortly before Christmas.
Initially placed in a coma, he was released in early January and had since experienced periods of hopeful improvement, soon followed by relapses. It was after a stabilization of his condition following an alert that the situation deteriorated again on February 12. No encouraging signs have since been mentioned by medical bulletins which have become worrying. On Monday, much of the Italian press even announced his death prematurely, which his team had to deny by conceding that his condition was “extremely critical”.
On Tuesday, the courageous struggle that the doctors had never ceased to salute came to an end: Fausto Gresini died. His team announced it soberly: “The news that we would never have wanted to give you and that we are obliged to write. After almost two months of fighting COVID-19, Fausto Gresini is leaving us at just 60 years old. The whole Gresini Racing team surrounds us his family, his wife Nadia and his children Lorenzo, Luca, Alice and Agnese, and the countless people who had the good fortune to know and appreciate him. “
Fausto Gresini and Marco Simoncelli
Born on January 23, 1961, Fausto Gresini could not escape the passion that nourishes the lands of Imola, where he takes his first steps and, soon, his first turns of the wheel. First a mechanic, he invests himself body and soul to learn everything, his hands dirty from adolescence, then manages to touch his dream with his finger by trying in turn to pilot these motorcycles that he pampers. .
Quickly, he climbed the ranks until he lined up at the start of the Grand Prix des Nations, in Misano, in 1982, where he joined forces with the stars of the World Championship. The following year, he in turn joined the series as a starter, and a 12-year career began, fully contested in the 125cc category. In 1985, he won his first World Champion title, which he repeated two years later. He will also be three times vice-world champion and will win 21 times, writing one of the most important chapters of the category at a time when his opponents are called Ángel Nieto, then Luca Cadalora, Pierpaolo Bianchi or even Loris Capirossi.
When he hangs up his helmet, at 33, Fausto Gresini takes the time to refine his second career. It is time for him to pass on and this is how Gresini Racing was born. “At one point, I had to make a choice between becoming an old driver or a young manager”, he will explain. The adventure will be rich, there too, as he becomes one of the most loved team directors, deeply attached to those he supervises, whether they are the champions in the light or the men of The shadow.
Fausto Gresini and Marco Melandri in 2006
The Gresini Racing adventure begins with the 500cc, with Alex Barros and the first podiums won with the Honda NSRV two-stroke two-cylinder then the four-cylinder. From 1999, the team shines in 250cc with Loris Capirossi (his former opponent) or Daijiro Kato. Both win and are placed one after the other on the podium of the championship, then the Japanese triumph in a record year 2001. The return to the premier class, with the creation of MotoGP in 2002, was accompanied by a first drama, the death of Kato at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. Eight years later, his other favorite rider, Marco Simoncelli , who is killed at the Malaysian Grand Prix, leaving Fausto Gresini marked forever.
Without ever giving up, Gresini has remained a pillar of the championship despite the events, entered in all categories and tireless passer with young drivers. His team continued to shine in MotoGP, carried over the years by Sete Gibernau (vice-world champion 2003 and 2004), Marco Melandri (vice-world champion in turn in 2005), Toni Elías (winner of the famous GP Portugal 2006 in MotoGP, then first titled in Moto2 in 2010), Álvaro Bautista (fifth and sixth in the 2012 and 2013 championships), Enea Bastianini (who is playing his first three seasons of Moto3 and signs his first successes with the team), or Jorge Martín (titled in Moto3 in 2018), to name a few.
Fausto Gresini and Jorge Martín in 2018
Since 2012, the Gresini team has been involved in the three categories of the Grand Prix, a program to which MotoE was added in 2019, with success since it was its rider, Matteo Ferrari, who won the first season. In MotoGP, the important partnership sealed with Honda since the creation of the team ended in 2015, and it is with Aprilia that Gresini Racing has partnered in a unique program to support the manufacturer before it is ‘hires a real official team. In December, the Italian team announced that it had renewed its contract with the championship for the next five years, but with plans to regain its status as an independent team in 2022.
From his racing career, born on merit from the workshops where he learned the secrets of motorcycles late at night, Fausto Gresini drew an iron will, which he has never ceased to transmit to his teams, at through the essential mix between work and passion, both experienced as intensely. Leader and unifier, he was the pillar of his troops, but also one of the benchmarks of the paddock since his remarkable arrival at the 1982 Nations Grand Prix.
The death of Fausto Gresini today leaves an immense void in the hearts of each of us who have been able to vibrate in front of the exploits of the champion that he was or to admire his human and passionate management of his team. Two of his pilots were inducted into the rank of Legends after the tragedies that marked his career as a boss; today he is joining them, too soon.
Fausto Gresini and Marco Simoncelli in 2010