MILAN (AFP) - Italian Fausto Gresini, a double 125cc world champion and MotoGP team owner, has died from the coronavirus aged 60, his team announced on Tuesday (Feb 23).
Gresini Racing announced on Twitter "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."
Gresini won the 125cc motorbike world championship in 1985 and 1987 before setting up his own outfit.
He was admitted to hospital on December 27 at first in Imola and then in Bologna's Maggiore Hospital, suffering from severe and persistent breathing problems after contracting the virus over the Christmas holidays.
Born in 1961 he competed in the 125cc category between 1983 and 1994, winning 21 grand prix with 47 podiums and 17 pole positions in 133 races, finishing vice-champion three times.
After retiring he established his own team which competes in all three divisions with Italian constructor Aprilia among the MotoGP elite.
Gresini Racing has had a tragic recent history with Japan's former 250cc world champion Daijiro Kato dying after a crash during the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix.
Tragedy struck again in October 2011 when Italian rider Marco Simoncelli died after an accident at the Malaysian Grand Prix.