Spanish motorcycling legend Ángel Nieto dies after quad bike accident

The 13-time world champion had been in hospital for eight days with serious head injuries

Spanish motorcycle champion Ángel Nieto died on Thursday in Ibiza and eight days after suffering an accident while riding a quad bike, his family have confirmed to news agency Europa Press. The 13-time world champion suffered serious head injuries in the incident, and in the early hours of Thursday morning his condition worsened, requiring surgery.

Ángel Nieto in a photo from November 2015.
Ángel Nieto in a photo from November 2015.SERGIO PEREZ / REUTERS

Nieto’s medical report released on Wednesday stated that he was in a serious but stable condition. However, “a sudden worsening” was caused by a rise in inter-cranial pressure, from which he didn’t recover.

The accident took place when Nieto was driving a quad bike along the road between Ibiza and Santa Eulalia. He was struck by a vehicle that was traveling behind him and he suffered a serious blow to the head. The occupants of the car were unhurt and the driver passed a breathalyzer test. Nieto was immediately taken to hospital.

Nieto won 12+1 world motorcycling championships, as he liked to say, due to superstitions about the number 13

Born in Zamora on January 25, 1947, Nieto won “12+1” world motorcycling championships – as he liked to say, due to superstitions about the number 13 – during a wide-ranging sporting career, which ran from 1964 to 1986. He managed a total of 90 wins, putting him third in the all-time world championship ranking, behind Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.

From a humble family in the working-class Madrid neighborhood of Vallecas, he worked a number of different jobs in different places before becoming a competitive rider, including as a mechanic in the factory of motorbike producer Ducati.

In 1970 he won his first 50cc world title with Derbi, and the following year he took the Spanish championships in the 50cc, 125cc and 250cc categories, as well as the 125cc world championship. In 1972 he took the 50cc and 125cc world titles on the same day, at the last race of the year. He would go on to win seven 125cc and six 50cc championships in total.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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