Ayrton Senna was not just an icon of Formula One, but left a lasting legacy across the entire motorsport world, including MotoGP.

Monday marked the 25th anniversary of Senna's fatal accident at Imola and, on the eve of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, the leading riders in the current MotoGP standings were asked for their memories of the charismatic Brazilian star.

"He was a special driver and everybody loved him, I think, for the way he drove but also the way he lived," said Ducati's title leader Andrea Dovizioso. "I was very young [when he died], but I remember it was a really bad day.

"But this is unfortunately part of the sport and at that time unfortunately the cars were more dangerous than now. So with that crash you couldn’t do anything. Fortunately, after that, they changed the rules on the cars and improved a lot the safety. Unfortunately this is our world.

"But he was amazing, I think for everybody."

The rider with the clearest Senna memories was Valentino Rossi.

The Italian - who would go on to become the most popular motorcycle racer of all time - was 15 when Senna suffered his fatal Imola accident.

"I think that Senna is one of the most iconic drivers or motorsport athletes in history, for a lot of different reasons but especially his charisma and talent. He is an inspiration for everybody," said the nine-time world champion.

"I remember very well that day [at Imola]. I was in Vallelunga and it was something that you think is not true.

"Because all weekend was difficult, already Ratzenberger died on Saturday and also Barrichello had a big crash on Friday. So looks like they arrived at a point where Formula One was too dangerous.

"And Senna said this a lot of times during the weekend and it looks like he didn’t want to race, but at the end he raced and when the crash happened and he remained in the car, from the television it didn't look real. But unfortunately it was like this.

"I think it was a very sad day for motorsport, because we lose one of the best in history. But it was like this. And, fortunately for the future, like Andrea says, they changed [the cars] but unfortunately a little bit too late."

While comparisons have been made between Senna and Rossi in terms of worldwide adoration, Marc Marquez is probably closest on the current grid to Senna's uncompromising, flat-out approach to racing and ability to rise above the limits of his machine.

The reigning MotoGP champion was just a year old when Senna died, but "I know all his history, the way he drove, the accident and everything.

"He was one of these drivers that I like because he gave everything on the track.

"Sometimes an athlete or sportsman, it doesn't matter how many titles or championships you will win, it's the way to drive, the way you ride, the way you give everything on the track and the passion.

"He was that kind of sportsman that I like and would like to be."

New first-time MotoGP winner Alex Rins has also learned about Senna from watching footage of his career.

"I didn't know him because I was born in '95, but I saw a lot of videos of him on Instagram, YouTube and he was an incredible driver," Rins said. "It was unbelievable the way he drove. So for sure it's a shame [what happened] and as Dovi says before the safety for the cars was very low."

 

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