Fausto Gresini has passed away following complications owing to Covid-19, an illness he had been battling in hospital since 27 December.
But who was Fausto Gresini?
Before becoming the founder and manager of Gresini Racing, Fausto was a very successful rider in the world championship. He won two 125 world titles in 1985 and 1987, aboard the Garelli. His rivals back then? Angel Nieto, Ezio Gianola, Pier Paolo Bianchi, Jorge Martinez, Loris Capirossi and Doriano Romboni, to name but a few.
Fausto made his world championship debut in 1982 when he rode an MBA at the Misano Nations Grand Prix, though he failed to reach the finish line that day. The following year, in 1983, he scored his first podium, in Sweden, and rounded out the year in ninth place with 37 points.
MBA were not convinced by this points tally and so 1984 saw him move to Garelli. MBA would soon regret its decision as, with Garelli, Gresini was able to secure his first career win and another two podiums, finshing third overall with 51 points, behind Angel Nieto and Eugenio Lazzarini.
1985 brought the first of two world titles, thanks to three races wins and eight podiums. The following year Gresini finished second with four wins and eight podiums. In 1987 he was a man on a mission, keen to make up for the previous season. Fausto dominated that season with ten wins and just one DNF, in Portugal.
1988 was Gresini’s last year aboard the Garelli and his season was conditioned by injury. Fausto finished just 21st with 22 points. He moved to Aprilia in 1989 but scored just one podium. 1990 saw him ride the Honda and he would remain with the Japanese manufacturer until his retirement from racing in 1994.
He scored one podium in 1990 and helped Capirossi to win the title. He was championship runner-up in both ‘91 and ‘92, then eleventh in 1993 with 61 points and 16th in 1994 with 48 points.
His life as manager
Having hung up his helmet, Fausto founded Gresini Racing. The team made its official debut in 1997 with Alex Barros and the Honda NSR500 V2, which became the NSR 500 V4 in 1998 on the back of the Brazilian’s results.
In 1999 the team moved to the 250 class with Loris Capirossi, who would finish third behind Rossi and Ukawa. When Capirossi moved up to the 500 class along with Rossi and Ukawa, Gresini Racing welcomed Japanese rider Daijiro Kato. After a year of learning the ropes, he won the title in 2001.
In 2002 Gresini took on the MotoGP challenge and returned to the Top Class with the NSR500 and Daijiro Kato. Mid-season, the Japanese rider was presented with the 5-cylinder RC211V.
For the 2003 season, Honda gave Gresini a second RC211V for Spaniard Sete Gibernau. The season began with the dramatic death of Kato following an incident at Suzuka. Suddenly the team’s sole rider, Gibernau finished the season in second place behind Valentino Rossi.
2004 saw American Colin Edwards ride the second RC213V. Gibernau once again rounded out the season second, behind Rossi’s factory Yamaha.
2005. Brought in to replace Edwards, it was Marco Melandri who finished second overall, 70 points clear of his team-mate Gibernau. In 2006 Elias took Gibernau’s place but Melandri continued to be the team’s leading light, and then again in 2007 with the RC212V 800.
2008-2009 proved to be a tough period for the team, which scored just a couple of podiums with Elias and De Angelis in 2009. In 2010 Melandri returned to the team alongside rookie Marco Simoncelli. The results failed to meet with expectation though, Melandri scoring a best of fourth in Portugal, and Simoncelli fifth at Mugello.
The team started 2011 with big ambitions. Simoncelli was joined by Japanese rider Aoyama. Sic scored the only two podiums of his career at Brno and Australia before a tragic accident at Sepang cost him his life.
During the first part of 2012, team Gresini raced with a full black livery to honour the memory of Simoncelli. The team’s rider Alvaro Bautista scored two podiums in Italy and Japan. Bautista continued to be the team’s best bet in both 2013 and 2014.
After thirteen years with Honda, Gresini then joined the Aprilia project, the Italian manufacturer returning to the championship after a 12-year absence. In 2015-2016 Alvaro Bautista continued to ride for the team but in 2017, he was swapped out with fellow Spaniard Aleix Espargarò. Many riders followed on the second RS-GP but the Catalan rider remained the strongest, despite Aprilia still being unable to score the kind of results it hoped for.
Although the team failed to achieve the kind of MotoGP results it had with Honda, the squad had greater success in the minor classes. Martin became Moto3 world champion in 2018, Elias the first Moto2 champion in 2010.
2019 brought the MotoE project with Energica Ego Corsa. The team, Trentino Gresini, fielded Matteo Ferrari and Lorenzo Savadori. And come the end of the year it was Matteo Ferrari who became the very first champion of the new electric category.
Translated by Heather Watson