Ducati team chief Livio Suppo's first motorcycle Grand Prix was at Shah Alam in 1996; it was my first broadcast for Eurosport that weekend, too. He was in a Benetton shirt, keeping an eye on the sponsorship of the works Honda 250cc team that was on the fringe of the works Repsol Honda team of Mick Doohan, Alex Criville and Tadayuki Okada, who was making his debut on the V-Twin 500.
We just seemed to get chatting that weekend, the common denominator being our first work race while staying in the same hotel. The Benetton bike struggled on Michelin that weekend as the Aprilia Max Biaggi domination rolled on into what would be his third 250 title come Eastern Creek at the end of the year. But the stubbly bearded Italian would always be positive. Always pushing, pushing...
He couldn't get to Phillip Island the following year, but sent a fax to the HRC squad that was promptly stuck on the fridge door at the back of the garage, wishing everyone luck in the whole team as by then the little green sticker of Benetton had crept on to the works NSR 500s as they won every single race that season between Mick, Alex and Tady. I always remember that fax. Very team player.
At the end of 1999, Livio said he was out of Benetton and out of the paddock. Someone who would always help me translate the Italian headlines and stories while sitting in the paddock at Imola, had gone.