The World Superbike paddock is reeling today after it was confirmed Andrea Antonelli has succumbed to the injuries he sustained in a tragic first lap accident at the Moscow Raceway on Sunday morning.
Getting underway in treacherous conditions, the Italian fell on the back straight of the opening lap and was collected by the unsighted Lorenzo Zanetti. He was immediately tended to by the circuit's medical staff, but was sadly pronounced dead at 2.10pm local time.
As the tragic news of his death filtered through, the paddock was coming to terms with the loss of a well-liked and highly promising competitor that was in the racing form of his life.
Andrea was born in Castiglione del Lago in central Italy in 1988 and, like so many of his countrymen, first sampled racing two wheels in the local highly competitive Minimoto scene.
Local teams were impressed with his early signs of speed and he was promoted to ride in the Italian 125 championship. It only took a mere six months riding the machine for him to achieve his first win, doing so at the local Magione circuit, becoming the second youngest rider to ever win there, behind Marco Melandri.
After several years racing 125s in Italy and Spain, he was asked to test a Kawasaki 600 at Monza in 2005. Andrea soon realised that his future lay racing four strokes.
He spent the following three seasons competing in the European 600 Superstock championship and finished runner-up in 2007 after a season long duel with Maxime Berger. Showing consistency that belied his teenage years, Andrea visited the podium on five occasions in 2007 and picked up a maiden European victory at Assen.
From here, Andrea stepped up to the Superstock 1000 class, riding the Althea Honda initially before moving to Trasimeno Yamaha for the closing stages of the 2008 season. Collecting mixed results with the team in 2009, Andrea's switch to Lorini Honda would yield far greater returns in 2010.
In a season dominated by Ayrton Badovini aboard the BMW, Andrea nonetheless made his name with podiums on home soil at Monza and Misano en route to fourth overall, in turn prevailing over several notable names, including current WSBK front runners Davide Giugliano and Loris Baz.