|Honda MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli died after a crash at the Malaysian MotoGP in Sepang, organizers said on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino/Files)
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The motorsports world took another big hit on Sunday with the death of 24-year-old MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Exactly one week after IZOD IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and off road champion Rick Huseman was killed in a plane crash, Simoncelli died after crashing his Gresini Honda on the second lap of the race at Sepang Circuit.
After losing control of his motorcycle, Simoncelli fell to the pavement losing his helmet before appearing to be struck by first Colin Edwards and then Valentino Rossi.
He was taken to the track's medical centre for treatment, but his injuries were too serious.
MotoGP medical director Michele Macchiagodena said that Simoncelli suffered massive trauma to his head, neck and chest and died as a result of those injuries.
Track medical workers performed CPR in both the ambulance and for 45 minutes in the medical centre, but were unable to revive the young Italian rider.
A message on the MotoGP website read: "Marco Simoncelli succumbed to injuries sustained in Malaysia."
Like what happened in Las Vegas, series officials red flagged the race immediately and then cancelled it altogether.
NASCAR Camping World Truck series driver and former MotoGP champion Ricky Carmichael, who finished fourth on Saturday at Talladega, was shocked at his friend's death.
Carmichael tweeted: "So bummed to check my phone this morning. RIP Marco ... praying for his family."
Max Papis, a former Formula One and IndyCar driver who now drives in NASCAR in both Trucks and the Nationwide Series also tweeted about Simoncelli.
"To all my friends @NASCAR pls remember @marcosimoncelli as well tday he was an awsome kid and gr8 rider."
Toronto's Paul Tracy, too, sent his condolences via his Twitter account: "Rip marco simoncelli . This has been a very tragic week in motorsports."
In another message Tracy said: "Death has shown its ugly head this week dan wheldon, rick huseman, marco simoncelli are gone. Let's pray for a safe race today."
The death was the first in MotoGP since Daijiro Katoh who passed away as a result of injuries sustained in the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix.
Casey Stoner, who claimed this year's championship, said right after the crash he feared the worst for Simoncelli.
"As soon as I saw the footage it just makes you sick inside," he told BBC television. "Whenever the helmet comes off that's not a good sign."
Simoncelli won the 250cc world championship in 2008, clinching the crown in Sepang. He stepped up to MotoGP in 2010.
In his rookie year Simoncelli became known for his aggressive style of racing but in this, his second go around, he had figured out that finesse was as important as pure speed in the series.
He earned his first podium MotoGP finish, a third at Brno in the Czech Republic, and then placed second in Australia just a week ago.
As a result of those two performances Simoncelli was awarded a new contract by the Gresini Honda team for 2012.