Simoncelli killed in Malaysian GP crash
Italian sport was in mourning Sunday following the death of MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli in a crash at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
All sporting games in the country were observing a minute's silence in honor of the 24 year old, hours after he was confirmed dead at the Sepang track.
The Gresini Honda rider lost control of his bike while lowsiding at Turn 11 on the second lap. The Italian's bike veered across the track and straight into the path of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi.
Simoncelli, 24, who had his helmet knocked off in the accident, was taken to the circuit's medical center for treatment, while the race was canceled, but his injuries proved fatal.
"Despite their efforts, Marco sadly succumbed to his injuries at 4:56pm local time," a message on the MotoGP website confirmed. "Everybody involved in MotoGP extends its deepest condolences to Marco's family, friends and team at this tragic loss."
Italian soccer giant AC Milan led tributes to Simoncelli, an avid fan of the club, saying, "AC Milan offers a hug to the family of Marco ... and we want to offer the most sincere and heartfelt condolences in this sad moment."
AC's rival Inter also paid a strong tribute, saying that the team "shares in the pain of the Italian sports world and indeed the sports world for the loss of the rider Marco Simoncelli."
Inter fans unveiled a banner ahead of the game against Chievo that read, "There's a new star [in the sky]," AFP reported.
Formula One driver Mark Webber led tributes from the motorsport family, tweeting, "RIP Marco. A special talent that will be missed. Thinking of your loved ones and all the MotoGP paddock."
MotoGP team Ducati said the team and its riders were "united in the pain which today has hit the whole of MotoGP and we gather around Marco Simoncelli's family, friends and team. We will always remember Marco for his smile, his availability, his big heart and the emotions he gave us these last few years. He was one of us."
Simoncelli's death came amid a black period for racing, following the death of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon in Las Vegas last weekend. MotoGP's 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo meanwhile was fortunate to survive a nasty crash during warm-ups in Australia last Sunday.
Ferrari Formula One team principal Stefano Domenicali spoke of the cruelty of the sport.
"In these moments, it's difficult to express with words the pain for the death of a lad as sunny as Marco," he said, according to AFP. "Events like this and the equally tragic accident eight days ago that saw Dan Wheldon die in the IndyCar race in Las Vegas reminds us that all racers in motorsport are exposed to risk. We must never lower our guard but must always be aware that you can do nothing against death."
Sepang Circuit chairman Mokhzani Mahathir painfully agreed that the authorities were powerless to protect Simoncelli on Sunday.
"You can never guarantee a 100 percent safe race," he told reporters, according to AFP. "You expose yourself to danger when you race. As professionals, they know MotoGP is dangerous. Believe it or not, that is what they live for. Our condolences to Marco. He will be missed dearly."
Simoncelli, who was motionless on the track after the impact, had been fourth after the first lap. The race was immediately red-flagged after the collision before organizers officially canceled the event.
Yamaha Tech 3's Edwards also fell in the accident but escaped serious injury, while nine-time world champion Rossi, on a Ducati, was able to return to the pits.