The grand prix paddock is in a state of shock after the tragic news of Luis Salom’s passing on Friday evening after a serious incident at turn twelve in the second free practice session for the Moto2 class in Montmeló, Spain.
Aged 24, Salom had been competing in his third season in the intermediate category with SAG Racing, with whom he scored a surprise podium in the first race of 2016 in Qatar.
The incident is a tragic end to what was an eventful and all-too-brief career, in which the Spaniard amassed a total of nine grand prix wins and came within a race of winning the 2013 Moto3 world championship.
It is also the first fatality at a MotoGP event since Marco Simoncelli’s untimely passing in October, 2011.
Hailing from Palma de Mallorca, Salom came from a bike mad family that owned a Yamaha dealership, and began riding a PW50 at just two years of age.
After making his way through local championships, Salom first competed in the national C.E.V. series in 2007, along with the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
He then made his world championship debut in the 125cc class in 2009, a year after narrowly missing out on the Red Bull Rookies championship.
Replacing Simone Corsi from the seventh round of that year in the Jack & Jones Aprilia outfit, Salom was soon up to speed, finishing sixth at Donington Park in just his third race for the team.
A debut grand prix podium arrived two years later at Assen when competing with the RW Racing GP team, but 2012 was the year when the Majorcan really began to display his full potential.
Aboard a KTM housed in a Kalex frame, Salom amassed eight podiums and two victories – the first of which came after a thrilling last lap scrap in Indianapolis – on his way to second in the inaugural Moto3 world championship.
Those performances earned the up-and-coming Spaniard a place in Aki Ajo’s Red Bull KTM squad for 2013, in what turned out to be his most successful year of racing. Salom was leading the championship by five points going into the penultimate round of the year, after a string of podiums and seven race wins.
An unfortunate first lap collision with Isaac Viñales in Motegi dented those hopes, and he ultimately lost out at the final round in Valencia when he crashed while fighting for the lead.
Disappointment at losing out was however tempered by his promotion to the Moto2 class with Sito Pons’ Pagina Amarillas team the following year, with ex-Moto3 sparring partner Maverick Viñales as team-mate – a just reward for his impressive title tilt.
The move showed immediate promise too, with Salom taking podiums in his third and sixth races in the class. Although 2015 proved to be more difficult, Salom demonstrated he was still a force to be reckoned with by storming to a surprise podium in the first Moto2 encounter of this season.
We extend out deepest condolences to the friends and family of Luis Salom.
Read more: Luis Salom dies from injuries at Catalunya