UPDATE: Late on Thursday it was announced that Angel Nieto had passed away, due to his injuries.

Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez have paid tribute to Grand Prix legend Angel Nieto, who remains in hospital following a quad bike accident.

The 70-year-old was hit from behind by a car in Ibiza in Spain last week, suffering severe head trauma. The 13-time world champion was placed in an induced coma but earlier this week doctors at the Policlinica de Nuestra Senora del Rosario hospital said they had started the process of waking him up.

However, it is understood his condition worsened overnight, leading his son Pablo to withdraw from a planned press conference on Thursday at Brno in the Czech Republic, which hosts this weekend’s tenth round of the MotoGP World Championship.

Rossi, speaking at the MotoGP riders’ pre-event press conference, said: “I have a great relationship with Angel and also Pablo. I was with Pablo when the news arrived because he was in Tavullia for work with the team.

“It is a bad situation for our world because Angel is special for his charisma, not just for his victories – 13 times world champion – but also for the man he is. We hope for the best way.”

Asked to provide an anecdote about the times he has spent with Nieto, Rossi recalled a night out with the Spaniard around ten years ago.

“For me, what is incredible about Angel is the amount of power he has still at 70 years old. I think last week his mother turned 100 years and is still in a good shape.

“I remember one time we went out together for dinner, maybe 10 years ago or less, and after we go at the party and at five o’clock I was destroyed and I want to go to sleep, but Angel say to me, ‘No, stay here, don’t go to sleep, we have to go to another place!’ And I say, ‘f***, he is 65 and is still at the maximum’. So I think this is the best of Angel.”

MotoGP world champion Marquez has also developed a rapport with fellow countryman Nieto since he became involved in Grand Prix racing in 2008.

“It’s really sad news for all the paddock, for all the sport, all of MotoGP and for Spain because he is a real legend. Just we can try to be close to give the best support to his family and wish the best,” said Marquez.

“I have many [memories]: Since I arrived here in 2008 in the world championship, he was one of the first legends that came to me and the relationship was really good.

“I spent quite a lot of time in his motorhome watching football games – he was pushing for Real Madrid, I was pushing for Barcelona! – we spent many times, not only on the race track, but in Madrid for example. We hope the best for him because like Valentino said, it’s not only what he won, it’s also his character.

Nieto competed in Grand Prix motorcycling from 1964 to 1986, scoring 90 wins and winning 13 titles across the 50cc, the 80cc and 125cc categories.



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