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It takes talent to recognize talent, and there is no doubting the ability which the late, great Fausto Gresini had during his racing days. A two-time World Champion in the 125 cc class, the racing icon eventually turned to management, spending over 25 years fostering the growth of one of the most well-known teams in the sport today, before sadly passing away prior to the season’s beginning.
A multitude of talented riders have donned the Gresini colours throughout the years and continue to do so now. Throughout the paddock, there are still students of the Italian, both past and present, who are putting their names in the headlines, and they haven’t forgotten the man who helped nurture their talents.
Jorge Martin, now of Pramac Racing, spent two years under the guidance of the Italian, culminating in being crowned the 2018 Moto3™ World Champion. The man from Madrid had a weekend to remember at the Doha GP, claiming pole position and a P3 race finish in just his second ever premier class Grand Prix. He knew exactly who to thank in the aftermath.
"I would like to dedicate this podium to Fausto," he said in the post-race press conference. “He was really important to my career. He gave me the opportunity to go to Honda. I was at a really low moment because I with a bad bike and I wasn’t making results.”
“He said to me: ‘Come here, I know you have talent. Together we can win this Championship. "I miss him very much because he had become a close friend, he was like family to me. I’m really glad I stopped with the Gresini team for a big hug. For sure he is watching up there.”
It was a touching tribute, but it should be noted he isn’t the only MotoGP™ rookie who came under the tutelage of Gresini. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) claimed consecutive top three Championship finishes in Moto3™ with Gresini Racing teams, and the reigning Moto2™ Champion also impressed in his first races in the premier class, earning a top 10 finish on debut.
Martin: "I want to dedicate it to Fausto"
Of course, we cannot forget about Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who has made major strides forward during the opening rounds of 2021 with back-to-back top 10 finishes. As the grid returns to Europe, the Noale factory will have their sights on a podium finish as they close the gap to the fastest riders.
The influence of Gresini isn’t just seen at the top level, with the likes of Moto2™ Championship leader and favourite Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing) having spent some time with his teams back in 2016 and 2019. Staying in the intermediate class, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) recorded the Gresini team’s first podium finish in four years at the Qatar GP, when he stole a march on Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) to the line. Like Martin, he was keen to pay tribute to the man who helped in his development as a rider.
"Today has been a crazy day,” said Di Giannantonio. “It’s been amazing because we’ve been through a lot of bad things this winter, something unreal. All the team believed in our boss’ goal, and so we worked so hard to get here. All the race, I was racing with my heart…. I did everything possible to achieve it. All for Fausto.”
In Moto3™ too we can see his influence, with Jeremy Alcoba and Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3 teammate Gabriel Rodrigo among the early title favourites for the category, while Doha GP P3 finisher Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) came through the structure. Each rider as proud as the next to have ever worked with Fausto.
The icon of the sport may have left us, but his legacy continues to live on.
"All for Fausto" - Di Giannantonio's emotional Qatar podium
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