MOTOGP » Alex de Angelis
Alex de Angelis may have finished the 2008 season as the lowest ranked of the four MotoGP rookies but the Honda Gresini rider - who finished second 16 times in 250GP, winning just one race - showed little fear as he made the step up to the premier-class, with the highlight of his season being a stunning charge from last to fourth at Mugello.
Alex took a further fourth place finish at the wet German GP, but suffered far too many accidents, heavily restricting him to 14th in the championship and prompting a warning to calm down from team principal Fausto Gresini.
de Angelis emerged a changed man in 2009, scoring points in the first twelve races, culminating in a debut podium with second place at Indianapolis.
Unfortunately, like team-mate Toni Elias, he had already lost his seat to Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri and de Angelis hurt his prospects of a alternative ride by causing a first lap pile-up next time out in his home San Marino Grand Prix, then failed to finish the Estoril round directly after that.
A satellite Honda ride for Team Scot, backed by San Marino, was the cards but ultimately came to nothing and so, despite finishing his second season eighth in the championship - just a few points behind Elias on the ‘factory’ bike - de Angelis was forced to join Elias in stepping down to Moto2 for 2010.
de Angelis spent four seasons in 250GP with Aprilia before graduating to the premier-class, claiming podiums in every season with a peak championship ranking of third in both 2006 and 2007.
Alex’s only win came at the end of the 2006 season, at Valencia, and it was anticipated that with a victory finally under his belt de Angelis would prove a match for eventual 2007 champion Jorge Lorenzo and runner-up Andrea Dovizioso the following year. However, his title challenge never quite took off despite only one failure to finish a race and eight podium places in his final 250cc season.
de Angelis has aggression aplenty, and this was perhaps best on show in his 125cc days when his all-action style and uncompromising overtaking technique took him to runner-up spot in his fourth full season in the smallest capacity class.
The risks of that aggressive style were illustrated at the 2007 Turkish Grand Prix, when Alex just clung on to his Aprilia after being been hoisted out of the seat after clashing with other riders on the high-speed back straight. Even though out of the saddle and on the grass, the dogged de Angelis brought the machine to a halt yards from disaster, averting what would have been a very unsavoury incident.