Marco Simoncelli's father Paolo has paid tribute to his son during an interview on Italian TV, in which Marco's mother and girlfriend also spoke of their pain and pride.

"Marco was a very special person... Most of all he was honest, he was really pure," Paolo told Italian TV show Matrix.

24-year-old Simoncelli died from injuries sustained on lap 2 of Sunday's Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

The Italian, who had taken his best MotoGP finish of second just one week earlier in Australia, lost the front of his motorcycle and lowsided from fourth place - but his bike then regained traction and swerved across in front of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi, who could do nothing to avoid the fallen rider.

The accident left Simoncelli motionless in the track, with his helmet having been knocked off by the force of the impact. Paolo then rode to the scene of the accident on a scooter and helped carry the stretcher into the ambulance.

A video has emerged showing that marshals dropped part of the stretcher as they rushed from the track, but Paolo played down the significance of the incident.

"Marco was already dead," he said. "I was there and it would not have changed anything. When they came up [with the stretcher] I took Marco's hand, I tried to greet him, but he was already gone, there was nothing anyone could do."

The only 'what if' Paolo feels is in regards to the accident itself, and what might have been if Marco had tried to bail off as soon as he lost control. "Marco was a warrior. He never gave up... that's why he didn't try to leave the bike."

Paolo also wanted to say thanks for the support he and his family have received.

"I want to thank the Malaysian authorities, the Italian ambassador and the circuit personnel that never left us alone for a moment. They've been exceptional," he said.

"When we arrived back in Rome, everyone was there. From the authorities to hundreds of people who stopped working to applaud Marco. If I say I am happy it would be bullshit... but all this deep affection is a beautiful thing."

Simoncelli's mother Rosella added: "We just helped him do what he loved. If you don't follow your heart life is full of regrets and Marco certainly didn't have any. He has left us with some great memories and we are proud of him."

Girlfriend Kate was watching the race from the Gresini Honda pits at Sepang.

"You cannot forget. You can only try to live with the pain," she said. "I went to our house today and tried to speak to him, hoping something would happen like in the film "Ghost".

"When I saw his helmet had come off in the accident I knew there was nothing to do but pray.

"If someone got hurt at a race he would say 'that is racing, if you don't want anything to happen, you would stay at home'. So I think he would like me to end this interview by saying 'that is racing'."

Simoncelli's funeral is scheduled for Thursday, October 27 at 3:00pm in his hometown of Coriano. 60,000 fans are expected to attend.


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