Marco Simoncelli has died from the injuries he sustained in a crash on the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, Eurosport informs. Simoncelli was fighting for fourth with Alvaro Bautista when he lost the front of his bike and slid across the circuit, into the path of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi, both of whom appeared to hit the Honda. Simoncelli lay stricken on the track after the crash, his helmet having come off during the incident. He was taken by ambulance to the circuit’s medical centre, but at 4.56pm local time it was announced he had succumbed to his injuries.
The death was the first fatality in MotoGP since Daijiro Katoh, also a Gresini rider, passed away as a result of injuries sustained in the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. The last fatal accident in the world championship series came when Moto2 rider Showa Tomizawa was killed at Misano last September. Simoncelli had established himself as one of the most exciting new stars in MotoGP this season, his second year at the top level with the Gresini Honda team.
A former European 125cc champion, Simoncelli was a race winner and frontrunner during three years in world championship 125cc racing before coming to the 250cc series in 2006.
He spent four seasons with the Gilera team, with the breakthrough coming in 2008 when he not only became a winner for the first time, but charged to the title, beating Alvaro Bautista.
Simoncelli stayed on in 250cc to defend his title in 2009, although he narrowly lost the crown to future Gresini MotoGP team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama after an early-season injury left him playing catch-up. He secured a MotoGP seat with Gresini for 2010 and became ever more competitive as his rookie season went on.