Earlier today the world of motor racing was struck by the devastating news of Aprilia team owner Fausto Gresini’s death. We at DIVEBOMB decided to remember him by taking a look at his illustrious career.
Written By Giuseppe Gaetano Dino, Edited By Issa Chaker
Fausto Gresini was born in Imola, Italy on January 23rd 1961. He made his debut in the 125cc class of the MotoGP championship in 1982, taking part in the Nations Grand Prix at Misano. He qualified a stunning twelfth, but then had to retire from the race.
He had to wait until 1983 for his next Grand Prix where he raced the whole season with the MBA team, getting points in seven of the ten races and even stepping on the podium for the first time in Sweden with a second place finish. However, his 39 points weren’t enough for his team’s demands so he had to move to the Garelli Team for the 1984 season.
In 1984, Gresini failed to complete half of the races he took part in. However, when he did complete a race, he never finished below fourth place, even taking two third places in England and Italy and getting his first Grand Prix win in Sweden. Those great results meant he took third place in the final standings with 51 points, behind the great Angel Nieto and Eugenio Lazzarini.
In 1985 Fausto built on his momentum and had his best season yet. He finished every race except for the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello, ending every single of these races on the podium except for the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, taking two third places, three second places and three wins. His consistency and quick racing allowed him to win his first 125cc title with 109 points, more than double the points he had scored the previous season.
In 1986 he won four Grand Prix, but was beaten in the championship by Luca Cadalora, ending the season in second place despite having scored more points than the previous year, 114. However, he came back stronger than ever in 1987, taking his second and last world title. He took an impressive 10 wins out of 11 races, having to retire in the last race of the season in Portugal due to a puncture while leading, which corresponds to an incredible 90,1% of the races (a percentage almost equal to the 2016 Mercedes W07 to give you an idea), ending the season with a record 150 points.
Unfortunately, after such a strong season, an injury forced Fausto to stay away from the racetracks for a while, and when he came back, he was nowhere near the level he had set in 1987. He spent the next years from 1989 to 1994 in the midfield, 1991 and 1992 being the best seasons in which he ended up second in the standings. At the end of 1994, he announced his retirement from racing, after 13 years competing in 125cc.
In 1997, Gresini founded his own team, Aprilia Racing Team in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc. In the 23 years they had so far, the team had enjoyed great success. Despite not being able to win the 500cc or MotoGP title (500cc was renamed MotoGP in 2002 following major technical regulation changes, which made the bikes almost twice as powerful as before), they came close to winning the title, with riders such as Daijiro Kato, Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri, Marco Simoncelli and many other great riders having raced for them. However, the team has enjoyed quite much success in junior categories: the first title came in the 250cc back in 2001, with the aforementioned Kato winning the riders’ title. The title came back in 2010 in Moto2, this time with Toni Elias winning the individual championship, and again in 2018 in Moto3, Jorge Martin taking the riders’ trophy.
In December 27 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Gresini was taken to the “Ospedale Maggiore” of Bologna, after showing strong symptoms of the virus. After a battle that lasted nearly two months, Fausto Gresini tragically passed away on February 23rd 2021. The whole world of motorsport will always remember what a great person he was, as well as a very fast and talented racer. We, here at Divebomb, give condolences to his whole family and friends, and wish he can rest in peace wherever he is now.