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6 days ago

A Sunday for Salom

Rivalries and grudges were put to bed as the World Championship came together to remember and honour Luis Salom.

With the blessing of Luis Salom’s team and family, the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya went ahead. The mood was sombre but every rider on track was out to put on the best show they could to honour Salom. MotoGP™ is a sport overflowing with passion from every area, fans and riders love the sport. On Sunday the passion is what came through, rivalries and hard feelings fell by the wayside as everyone’s love of racing shone through on what was a dark weekend.

"We were there together on the grid, there racing for Luis everyone dedicated the races to him" Marc Marquez

Tributes flooded in throughout the weekend but Sunday showed exactly how tight a community the paddock is. All three races were thrilling, but the celebrations were appropriately subdued, everyone coming together to remember Salom. “It’s the best way to remember Salom, it’s a small gift, a homage for his family. It’s not very important but it’s all we can do,” said Rossi.

For the second round running the MotoGP™ race was one of the most thrilling of the weekend, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) having their first proper battle since Sepang. The racing was as close as ever, but it was always fair and safe. Respect was shown and all previous ill feelings had melted away in the thrill of battle. In Parc Ferme Rossi walked over to Marquez with hand outstretched, congratulating him on a great race, an offer Marquez accepted with a smile. The tension was gone.

During the post-race press conference Rossi was asked if the weekend would help his and Marquez’s relationship going forward. A simple “Yes,” accompanied with a trademark Rossi smile was all that followed. But that one word said a lot, Marquez then reaching over and giving Rossi an appreciative shoulder squeeze, the two sharing a smile.

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Post-Race Press conference: #CatalanGP

It was a weekend of perspectives: “I think that after what happened everything else becomes not very important. It was small, but the right thing to do,” Rossi said of his gesture after the race.

"It has been a hard weekend for all the riders, but in the end I think that together we paid tribute to Luis Salom with the Sunday that he deserved. Another thing that’s important for motorcycle racing is that Valentino and I shook hands,” reflected Marquez.

The Spaniard was as relieved as everyone else that the old wounds had been healed: “In the end this Sunday I liked because it was again the atmosphere of a family, a MotoGP family. When we were there together on the grid, there racing for Luis, everyone dedicated the races to him.”

Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) shared Marquez’s sentiment: “In our sport we showed that we are a big family, and even if all of us didn’t know Luis, we gave our respect to him, with the three best riders in the race demonstrating this by putting on the memorial shirts as well as all the riders running Luis’ number.”

It wasn’t just Marquez and Rossi who showed a new level of respect for each other after the Catalan GP. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) had a tough weekend, even before being taking out by Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) but he too knows there are more important things than winning a race: “As I said yesterday, the result is secondary.” He also held his hands up for his poor performance, Rossi simply faster on Sunday: “With new tyres I was more or less at the same level but then, as I knew before the race, I started to have graining at the front and began to struggle. With the same bike, Rossi didn’t have so much graining. He was riding differently and could save more of the front. Today he made an unbelievable race. I could not ride like him, I couldn’t change my riding style with all the problems. This is the truth.”

The paddock leaves Barcelona with an irreplaceable piece missing but from the darkness a slither of light and hope has shone through. Unity and respect have returned and the memory of Luis Salom will continue to live on with every pass and photo finish.

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Luis Salom’s racing career