Anthony Gobert and 7 more riders prevented from fulfilling their talents


The recent passing of Anthony Gobert has returned the spotlight on the blighted career of a precocious riders considered to have a huge wealth of talent that remained untapped due to issues in his private life.

Alas, those troubles would come to catch up with him as he passed away after a short illness at the young age of 48.

He is not the only rider over the years considered to have promise that would ultimately be unfulfilled be it through off-track dramas, their untimely deaths or life-changing injury woes…

Anthony Gobert was fast… but personal troubles off track meant he was an intermittent figure on it

Anthony Gobert

Nicknamed ‘The Go Show’, Anthony Gobert was and will remain one of motorcycle racing’s great enigmas.

A rider boasting immense raw talent, Gobert quickly proved he was a world-class racer when he swept to victory at his home Phillip Island round of the WorldSBK Championship as a wild-card in 1994 in only his second international start.

His efforts duly earned him a full-time seat at Kawasaki for 1995, where he rewarded the manufacturer with five wins over the next two seasons, leading to him being snapped up by Suzuki for the 1997 500GP World Championship.

However, personal issues began to blight him once he’d reached the top flight, Gobert being dumped mid-season after failing a drugs test.

From here, Gobert’s reputation was sullied and despite the odd WorldSBK appearance – which included a shock win for Bimota at Phillip Island in 2000 – his international career would never get going again.

He continued to face run-ins with the law off-track during bit-part appearances on it in the ensuing years before passing away in January 2024 after a short illness.

Who knows what the future would have held for popular and fierce young talent Marco Simoncelli

Marco Simoncelli

We will never know just how successful Marco Simoncelli would have become in MotoGP had he not tragically passed away in an accident during the 2011 Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

An early protege of Valentino Rossi, Simoncelli – with his mop of hair and brash riding style – was considered the most likely heir to “the Doctor’s” affections and throne in their native Italy, his results on the Gresini Honda during his short time with the team putting him on the fast track to a factory Repsol Honda ride for 2013.

However, having only just achieved his best-ever MotoGP result of second place in Australia a week earlier, Simoncelli was tragically killed when he slipped off his RC213V at Sepang and was struck by the close-following Rossi and Colin Edwards.

Ian Hutchinson, Padgetts Honda, Honda CBR1000RR,2010 Isle of Man TT, action [IoM TT Media/Pacemaker]
It’s a credit to Ian Hutchinson that he keeps bouncing back after myriad setbacks…

Ian Hutchinson

It is a credit to Ian Hutchinson that after all of the injury woes and even a stroke last year that he still keeps bouncing back with a deal in place to compete in the Isle of Man TT and North West 200 for 2024.

However, while ‘Hutchy’ remains a record-breaker in road racing terms following his stunning run of victories at the highest-profile meetings in 2010 – including five at the TT – that it does leave one to consider what might have been had his leg not been severely injured in a British Supersport accident later that year.

Indeed, while Hutchinson has repeatedly returned to action with interest and continued to win races at the highest level, ongoing issues with the aforementioned injured leg and another serious fracture to his other leg have left him requiring more than 40 surgeries over the years.

Coupled with the stroke he suffered in 2023 – thus forcing the governing body to revoke his racing licence for a year – and Hutchinson’s ability to dust himself off and get on a racing bike each time probably ranks as an even greater achievement than his standard setting five wins at the TT in 2010.

Dajiro Kato was often mentioned in the same breath as Valentino Rossi when it came to predicting the future of MotoGP

Dajiro Kato

Much like Simoncelli, many feel Dajiro Kato would have gone on to great things but for his untimely death during his home Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuki in 2003.

Arguably the most promising in a litany of Japanese talents being fostered domestically by the ‘big three’ of Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha, Kato was at the time measured greatly alongside Valentino Rossi as the next generation of motorcycle racing superstar.

After an eye-catching maiden campaign in the premier class in 2002, Kato was being touted for great things come 2003 but completed only a single round before his impact with the wall coming down from high-speed into the Casio Triangle cost him his life. Grand Prix racing has never returned to Suzuka since.

Joan Lascorz was left paralysed from the neck down in a crash just as Kawasaki was hitting its stride in WorldSBK

Joan Lascorz

You only have to see the success Kawasaki went on to enjoy with Tom Sykes and then Jonathan Rea to consider what Joan Lascorz might have been capable of but for his unfortunate life-changing accident during WorldSBK testing at Imola in 2011.

A favoured choice of Provec Racing, which would go on to mould Kawasaki into WorldSBK title-winners, when they competed in WorldSSP together, Lascorz was the one to take the manufacturer to its best results in more than a decade in his rookie campaign in 2011, while he out-scored the more experienced Sykes too.

However, when Kawasaki came out fighting with its competitive ZX-10R package in 2012, Lascorz managed only two events before a crash that caused him to impact the wall at Imola left him paralysed from the neck down.

There is no disputing Shane Byrne’s talent and success… but we are left wondering what might have been

Shane Byrne

While you wouldn’t necessarily suggest Shane Byrne – a WorldSBK race winner and four-time BSB Champion – is a talent unfulfilled, his untimely retirement part-way through the 2018 BSB season after a crash in testing at Snetterton robbed us of discovering exactly what he might have gone on to achieve.

Strictly speaking, the accident – which left him with serious back injuries – left us on tenterhooks over whether Byrne would ever make a comeback, but the Kent rider would resist the temptation on doctors’ orders and decide to call it quits so as not to risk another more serious injury in future.

World Champ in 125 and 250GP, Manuel Poggiali shunned the opportunity to join MotoGP and his career suffered for it

Manuel Poggiali

Another of motorcycle racing’s great enigmas, Manuel Poggiali is unusual in that he is a 125 and 250GP World Champion who never got his chance on the 500GP/MotoGP stage.

The San Marino rider was the forced of the feeder GP classes between 2001 and 2003, notching up 11 wins and 31 podiums across the two classes, but a decision to turn down a step up to MotoGP for 2004 preceded a surprise decision to return to 125GP in 2005.

Becoming disillusioned with the sport, Poggiali’s results suffered and he opted to retire from the sport altogether mid-way through the 2008 250GP season having achieved only one win and three more podiums since 2004.

Romano Fenati will always likely be clouded by the aggressive reputation of his formative GP years

Romano Fenati

Unlike the other riders in this list, many will feel Romano Fenati has only Romano Fenati to blame for his failure to live up to the promise his raw talents and endorsement from Valentino Rossi himself built for him.

Certainly fast on his day, alas Fenati was also tempestuous so whether he was kicking out at rivals for slowing him down, petulantly flicking the off-switch on another bike during a practice start or – more sinisterly – reaching out to blip the brake lever of Stefano Manzi’s accelerating Moto2 bike as revenge for being forced wide, Fenati quickly fell out with Rossi, the FIM and fans the world over.

A low-key return to Moto3 in recent years has seen Fenati rebuild his reputation to an extent, but it is a cloud that will continue to linger probably beyond his competitive years.



Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *