Bengaluru, February 23: Legendary rider and Team Gresini boss Fausto Gresini passed away after a prolonged battle with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The 60-year-old -- a double world champion in the 125cc class in the 1980s -- was taken to hospital in his native town Bologna and placed in a medically-induced coma after contracting the COVID-19 virus in December.
The Italian was brought out of it last month when his condition improved, but complications forced medical staff to attach a mechanical respirator and put him in a coma once again last week.
The news we would have never wanted to give, and that unfortunately we are forced to share with all of you. After nearly two months battling against Covid, Fausto Gresini has sadly passed away, few days after turning 60. #CiaoFausto❤️ pic.twitter.com/mHMsDgunmb— Gresini Racing (@GresiniRacing) February 23, 2021
"The news we would have never wanted to give, and that unfortunately, we're forced to share with all of you," the team said in a statement.
"After nearly two months battling against COVID, Fausto Gresini has sadly passed away, few days after turning 60."
Gresini competed until 1994 and accrued 21 wins overall, becoming one of the most successful riders of his era in the 125cc class. After hanging up his leathers, he then found equal and impressive success as he began a career on the other side of the pit wall.
His journey as Team Manager began in 1997, and the Gresini team took a World Championship for the first time in 2001 with Japanese rider Daijiro Kato as the two dominated the 250cc class together.
Further Championships came in 2010 in Moto2 with Toni Elias and 2018 in Moto3 with Jorge Martin, as well as 2019 as the team won the inaugural FIM Enel MotoE World Cup with Matteo Ferrari.
The teams that bear his name compete across all three classes of the FIM -- MotoGP World Championship in 2021, from MotoGP to Moto3, as well as MotoE, and will race on in his honour.
A much loved member of the MotoGP family has sadly left us— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) February 23, 2021
Fausto Gresini was a colleague to many, a friend to all and will be sorely, sorely missed. Our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones
Rest in peace Fausto pic.twitter.com/qWfP34BIpa
MotoGP Commercial rights holder Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta expressed his grief at the demise of a legend.
"I'm deeply saddened by the loss of Fausto. He was a very good friend and I liked him a lot. I have been following the news on his condition closely and I was lucky enough to be able to speak to him even as he was in hospital. I'm so very sorry to suffer a loss like this in the paddock and I want to send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and the members of his team."