On August 7, 2023, GRT Yamaha team founder and sporting director Mirko Giansanti died after battling a long and serious illness. He was 46 years old.
Prior to founding the Giansanti Racing Team (GRT) Yamaha in World SuperSport, which currently fields riders as the GYTR GRT Yamaha World Superbike team in both WSBK and WSSP, he was a successful racer.
Giansanti’s debut race was the 1996 125cc Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, where he appeared as a wild card. There, he was impressive enough to earn three more rounds of racing that season—and even picked up a solid two points although he didn’t race for the full season.
By 1997, the tide had turned, and he was now signed up as a full-time rider. Once there, he managed to land in the top ten in the riders’ championship throughout the course of the season. Regular points and podiums soon followed. At Suzuka in 2003, he nearly won the race—missing out by less than a tenth of a second.
In total, he made 123 starts in the 125cc class before bumping up to the 250cc class in 2005, where he also regularly finished in the points. From 2008 through 2012, he competed in World Supersport before eventually founding the GRT Yamaha team in 2016.
Several racers whose names fans will recognize have come through the GRT Yamaha team since its inception. There’s Gino Rea, who helped the team podium in WSSP in its first season. In 2017—just one year later—Lucas Mahias took the WSSP title on a GRT Yamaha machine. By 2019, the team moved up to WSBK contention—hiring reigning WSSP champion Sandro Cortese, as well as Marco Melandri.
Melandri went on to get GRT Yamaha on the podium in its first-ever WSBK race, and podiumed a couple more times with the outfit down the line. Between 2020 and 2022, Garrett Gerloff added more podiums to the GRT Yamaha WSBK team’s record. In 2023, it’s Dominique Aegerter and Remy Gardner who are regularly running in the top ten for the team.
The GRT Yamaha team made an official announcement about Giansanti’s death on its webpage. It said, in part, “With great sadness and deep sorrow, the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team said farewell to Mirko Giansanti, who passed away today after a serious illness.”
It continues, “Mirko faced this final challenge with courage and dignity, the same attributes that so marked his career, first as a rider and later as the founder and Sporting Director of the Giansanti Racing Team. Unfortunately, this proved to be his final race. Mirko’s enormous love and passion for motorsport have characterized the team from the day it was founded in 2016 until today and will continue to do so forever.”
“Mirko’s humanity, strength of spirit and determination have always been a source of inspiration for the team and for all the people who had the privilege to make his acquaintance,” it goes on.
"Mirko, we will miss you terribly, but we know you will always be with us.
We promise you that we will work even harder to fulfill a common dream of taking your and our creature to the top of the world. Above all, we will always keep your memory alive,” it concludes.
Since the announcement, tributes have been pouring in throughout the motorcycling and motorsport world.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mirko after a long illness. He was a man who said little, preferring instead to lead by example and with this approach he and the GRT Yamaha Team achieved a lot. Mirko was an integral part of our Yamaha racing family and the WorldSBK paddock will be a lesser place with his passing. Rest in peace, Mirko,” Yamaha Motor Europe road racing manager Andrea Dosoli said in a statement.
Moto journalist Simon Hargreaves even noted how good a 125cc rider Giansanti was in the late 1990s, and said that he liked his leathers so much, he had a replica suit made—and then shared side-by-side photos.
We at RideApart extend our condolences to Giansanti’s family, friends, colleagues, fans, and all who knew him and are touched by his absence.