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Motorsport | MotoGP

Marco Simoncelli © Gallo Images

Simoncelli killed in Sepang crash



Italian MotoGP racer Marco Simoncelli was killed on the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday in a crash involving Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards.

The 24-year-old Italian, racing for the San Carlo Gresini Honda team, was in fourth place after the first lap of the race at the Sepang International circuit. During that lap, he was involved in a battle with Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) who was challenging from behind, with Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha) and Valentino Rossi (Ducati) following closely.

At the start of the second lap, Bautista got past Simoncelli in the first corner, but the Italian took the place back again. Moments later, Bautista once again got past, only to have Simoncelli get in front once more.

Then in Turn 11, with Simoncelli pushing hard and with the bike pulled over onto the kerb on the inside of the right-hander, the front tyre lost grip and the bike fell, with bike and rider skating to the left - but then the front tyre gripped again, swerving the bike hard to the right and straight into the path of Edwards and Rossi, neither of whom could avoid the crash.

Edwards' bike slammed hard into Simoncelli and his bike, ripping off his helmet, while both crashed into the side of Rossi, who also ran over Simoncelli before being flung off the track and onto the grass.

Rossi was able to stay on his bike and then returned slowly to the pits, but Edwards went down before getting up and stumbling around holding his arm.

Simoncelli remained prone on the track.

The race was immediately stopped as he was removed by ambulance to the track's medical facility. With the entire paddock subdued at the seriousness of the accident, organisers abandoned the race, and half an hour later it was announced that Simoncelli had succumbed to his injuries.

Edwards had suffered a dislocated shoulder, while Rossi, a great friend of Simoncelli, had been uninjured.

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"Everybody involved in MotoGP extends its deepest condolences to Marco's family, friends and team at this tragic loss," said MotoGP organisers in a statement.

Casey Stoner, who won his second MotoGP title at the Australian Grand Prix last week, said: "As soon as I saw the footage, it just makes you sick inside. Whenever the helmet comes off that's not a good sign."

Medical director Michele Macchiagodena said that Simoncelli was unconscious when medics reached him.

"He was hit by other riders, he suffered a very serious trauma to the head, to the neck and the chest," he said. "In the ambulance there was a cardiac arrest."

Simoncelli's death is the first in MotoGP since another Honda rider, Daijiro Kato, was killed at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. Japanese Shoya Tomizawa died in a similar crash to Simoncelli in Moto2 last year.

Jorge Lorenzo, the 2010 world champion, was not participating in the Malaysia race on Sunday owing to injuries he suffered in the Australian race last weekend.

"On a day like this I don't know what to say," said the Spaniard. "Marco, rest in peace."

"It is a really horrible day for all of us," said 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden. "I saw Marco fall. Leaving the corner he lost the back end and probably he didn't manage to regain his balance on the bike. I feel really bad. On the track we are all brothers."

Marco Simoncelli Factfile
Date of birth: January 20 1987
Place of birth: Cattolica, Italy
Nationality: Italian

Teams
MotoGP: Honda (2010-2011)
250cc: Gilera (2006-2009)
125cc: Aprilia (2002-2005)

Career
Races contested: 148
Wins: 14 (12 in 250cc, 2 in 125cc)
Podiums: 31 (2 in MotoGP, 22 on 250cc, 7 in 125cc)
Pole positions: 15 (2 in MotoGP, 10 in 250cc, 3 in 125cc)
Best MotoGP result:: 2nd in Australia, 2011
Last win: Australia, 2009 - 250cc
Last pole position: Dutch GP, 2011
250cc world champion - 2008
First GP:: Czech Republic 2002
First pole position: Spain 2004
First fastest lap: Qatar 2005
First podium: Spain 2004
First win: Spain 2004

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