Ducati Marlboro's Valentino Rossi spoke for the first time about the loss of his close friend Marco Simoncelli and the reaction of his fellow countryman at the pre-race press conference for the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix.Simoncelli died in a crash on the second lap of the Malaysia Grand Prix after falling off his motorcycle and being hit by both Rossi and Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards. Rossi was unhurt, while Edwards suffered a separated left shoulder and other minor injuries. Simoncelli's funeral, which was held last Thursday in his hometown of Coriano, was attended by thousands, including Rossi and a number of fellow riders; Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, Loris Capirossi, Mattea Pasini, and Giacomo Agostini all attended, as did Ducati Marlboro team manager Vito Guareschi.

"It's been a difficult week, difficult moment for sure from Sunday and I try to stay as much with possible with Paolo [Marco's father] with all the family of Marco, that are good my friends," Rossi said. "Also his mother and his sister. And the feeling in Italy was, I think, unbelievable, and great for Marco, because a lot, a lot of people remember him from all the part of Italy and demonstrated that [they] like a lot what Marco is doing in the track and out of the track."He continued: "And, you know, also in a bad, bad moment like this the atmosphere was great with a lot, a lot of people that want to say ciao to Marco. And, yeah, you know, after I think is good to be here in Valencia. Is a strange race, strange feeling for everybody, but I think is the best way for remember Marco."The 2011 season ends on Sunday and the 2012 season begins on Tuesday with the test of the new 1000cc MotoGP weapons. Ducati is expected to unveil their twin spar aluminum frame, which they hope will lift them from the doldrums that the team's been in this season, Rossi's worst in the premier class.

"Yeah, before we have the race and we have to try to make sure arrive at the end make some points, and for sure on Tuesday will have an important moment for next year, because is the first time that all the 1000 bikes are in the track together," he said. "And we work, we expect that, anyway, we have to fix something, to fix some problem, but will be interesting try the new bike together with the Honda, Yamaha."But, you know, before we have the race, we have to stay concentrated and try to make a good result, especially for remember Marco."Simoncelli will be forever remembered by the Misano World Circuit, which is just a few miles from his home. The track announced that it would be renamed for the popular and charismatic rider."We owe it to the memory of Sic," said Luke Colaiacovo, president of the circuit's board of directors, "his family, to the hundreds of thousands of fans who admired the courage and humanity, the many personalities from the sports world and media that gave voice to this true and its popular movement, spontaneous and moving. We are so happy and proud to associate the plant with Marco Simoncelli Misano, a champion in sport and in life."


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By Cycle News Staff

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