As Moto2 heads to Estoril this weekend, the Gresini team has had a long and tragic month off since Jerez.
First, there was the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix due to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the northern part of the country. After suffering the devastation in his country, Gresini Moto2 rider Yuki Takahashi also suffered a personal tragedy with the loss of his brother Koki, who died in a road accident.
The 23-year-old Koki was returning home from participating in a charity event to raise funds for earthquake relief when the accident occured.
Koki was also a racer; he rode as a wildcard entry in World Championship racing three times: twice in the former 250cc class that was replaced by Moto2, and at Motegi Moto2 in 2010. For 2011, he was scheduled to compete in the Supersport 600 class of the All Japan Road Race Championship.
Team Gresini reports that “Yuki has decided to race this weekend because it is what is brother would have wanted and although it won’t be easy for him he is determined to ride in his honor.”
Michele Pirro, meanwhile, remains determined to establish himself amongst the best riders in the Moto2 class.
Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Moto2) says: “I am so sad at the moment it is hard for me to even think back to the last race at Jerez or wonder what I might be capable of at Estoril. No doubt I will take to the track with Koki in my mind. He was only 23 and I want to race in his honor. That is what he would have wanted so I will do everything in my power to cope with it.”
Michele Pirro (Gresini Moto2) “I am really upset by the tragedy that has befallen my team-mate. It is a sad moment and I want to do anything I can to help Yuki get through this difficult time. I wasn’t totally satisfied with the result at Jerez because I feel I could have done better but I tried my hardest in the conditions.
“We gathered a lot of data over the weekend that the engineers will be able to use to improve the bike for Estoril. I have been training really hard during the break and I feel in good shape for Estoril, a circuit where I went quite well during the winter tests. I am confident I can be amongst the front of the Moto2 field.”
Fausto Gresini (Gresini Team Owner) says: “There are no words to reflect the tragedy of such a young death. It is a very sad time and the whole team will be supporting Yuki. It is a great pleasure to have him with us at Estoril and we hope he can honor his brother Koki in the best possible way.
“Pirro has to continue with the positive progress he has already made and I am sure he will be amongst the frontrunners in Moto2. We have a great team with two fast riders and I am sure we will have plenty to celebrate over the course of the season. We have a great relationship with Moriwaki and together we will enjoy success in Moto2.”