Two-time 250GP championship runner-up Ralf Waldmann has died aged only 51 years old after suffering an apparent heart attack at his home in Germany. The German was a championship-front runner throughout the ninties, twice finishing second and twice finishing third, winning twenty races in the process.
He was also perhaps most memorably the winner of an incredible British Grand Prix in 2000. Running on wet tyres on a drying track, Waldmann trailed the leaders by over a minute with just five laps remaining. But as rain started to fall, he came through to claim a sensational victory at the final corner from Frenchman Olivier Jacque by just over 0.3.
He retired from racing at the end of the 2000 season, but made a one-off return to the middleweight class in 2009 at Donington, replacing the injured Vladimir Leonov on the Kiefer Racing Aprilia.
Working after retiring from racing as a commentator for Eurosport and a regular face in the paddock, well respected and well liked in both the paddock and the media centre. He also bought a part-share in German brand MZ, helping their short-lived return to bike manufacturing.
Tributes to the German were led by Max Biaggi, whom Waldmann twice finished runner-up to in 1996 and 1997.
“He was a tough fighter on track but a very gentle and funny man outside the track. Despite our battles, I never had issues with him. He had a big heart.”