Kevin Schwantz to lead Marco Simoncelli tribute lap

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Kevin Schwantz will ride Marco Simoncelli’s factory Honda RC212V at the front of a special tribute lap in honour of the late Italian ahead of tomorrow’s final race in Valencia.

Schwantz was a boyhood hero of Simoncelli’s and the pair developed a close relationship in recent years, with the Texan becoming a big fan of the hard-riding San Carlo Gresini star.

Simoncelli died from injuries sustained in a tragic accident during last month’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

He was just 24 and tipped by many as the next major star in MotoGP.

The MotoGP community has been paying tribute to Simoncelli throughout the Valencia weekend, and tomorrow morning the entire paddock will gather to make a collective dedication to the 2008 250GP world champion.

At 10.10am local time (9.10am UK time) on Sunday morning riders from all three categories of the world championship have been invited to complete a lap of the track in honour of Simoncelli.

The procession will be led by 1993 world 500cc champion Schwantz.

As the riders round the final corner of the circuit and approach the finish line they will stop, with local authorities and representatives of MotoGP’s governing bodies (Dorna, IRTA and the FIM) congregating at the finish line alongside Simoncelli’s family and members of the Gresini team. Once the bikes have taken up their positions on the start/finish straight, a two-minute Valencian Mascletà (a traditional firecracker display) will take place.

The tribute follows a request from Simoncelli’s father Paolo to have a minute of chaos and noise in honour of his son, rather than the traditional minute’s silence.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt