Italian MotoGP team boss Fausto Gresini has admitted his love for motorcycle racing has been affected by the tragic death of his star rider Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia last October.
Simoncelli was blossoming into a major MotoGP star both on and off the track when he lost his life in a second lap incident during the Malaysian Grand Prix on October 23.
The former 250GP world champion had formed a close bond with team boss Gresini and less than a month before the Sepang accident he had signed a new contract for 2012 to stay with the San Carlo-backed squad for a third successive season.
Gresini made an emotional return to the Sepang circuit earlier this month when he attended the second pre-season test in Malaysia.
He told MCN: “To come back was very difficult. I went to the point where Marco crashed and it was a very emotional experience. I replayed a lot of things in my mind from that day and it was not a good moment.
"I still love this sport and it has to carry on but it is not very easy and I need more time to get over what happened.”
He has spoken further about the difficult healing process during a Honda interview in which he was asked why he had chosen Spaniard Alvaro Bautista to ride the Honda RC213V allocated for Simoncelli.
He said: “It's clear the story is strange. It's clear when we finished Marco's story we didn’t have another way. In that case, Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso) had signed before with Tech3.
"For me in that moment, it's not important to have an Italian rider. I prefer not to. For me the feeling is no good and I prefer to change the nationality and this is the reason. My mentality is no good to continue with an Italian rider on the same bike as Marco.
"It's necessary to take some time, a little more distance with the Spanish rider. All the time I'm working with bikes there’s much love for (motorcycles). Now it's difficult, it's different.
"Marco’s death, it changed many things. Now, in that moment, for me it's no good now. It's not a big love anymore. The work, I still love it, but to go to the circuit I don't really feel like it. This is my feeling at the moment. I think it will be necessarily a long process.”
Simoncelli’s death was the second tragic loss experienced by Gresini’s squad after Daijiro Kato was fatally injured in a crash at the opening round of 2003 at the Suzuka track in Japan.