Tragic: Marco Simoncelli of Italy and San Carlo Honda Gresini has died following a crash involving Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards during the Malaysian MotoGP in Sepang, Malaysia
Italian motorcyclist Marco Simoncelli died in a horrific crash at today's MotoGP race in Malaysia, organisers have said.
The 24-year-old was flung from his bike and skidded across the track, before apparently being hit by competitors Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi.
The fatal accident comes just a week after British IndyCar racing driver Dan Wheldon died after crashing in Las Vegas.
Simoncelli's bike was smashed to pieces after his dramatic loss of control in the second lap.
The unconscious rider was taken to the medical centre at the track in Sepang for treatment, but his injuries to the chest, head and neck were too serious for him to be saved.
Organisers cancelled the race soon after Simoncelli's accident and said in a bulletin reported on website Autosport: 'Race cancelled as the medical centre staff is focusing on treating Marco Simoncelli and track action cannot be resumed in the current circumstances.'
The rider, who only moved up to MotoGP level last year, was given CPR in the ambulance, while his appalled devastated mother and father wept in shock and fans huddled near the track sobbed with fear.
The CPR continued at the medical centre for 45 minutes but Simoncelli was declared dead at 4.56pm local time.
The rider's girlfriend Kate looked ashen-faced and she walked through the deserted MotoGP garages.
Simoncelli's fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa said: 'In a tragedy like this there is not much to say. I just want to give my condolences to his family and all the people who love him.'
Pedrosa, who had fallen out with Simoncelli earlier in the season, added: 'I've been with his father and all we
could do was to hug, nothing else matters.
could do was to hug, nothing else matters.
Tragedy: Simoncelli (centre) takes the first corner on his second lap moment before the fatal crash at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix
Deadly: The rider (No 58) is seen sliding from his bike and colliding with two other riders in a horrifying crash
Moment of horror: Simoncelli loses control on the secon
Disaster: Simoncelli fatally falls off of his Honda after colliding into Colin Edwards
Fall: Edwards spins off the track along with Simoncelli's bike as the 24-year-old Italian devastatingly lies motionless
Race marshalls attend to Honda rider Simoncelli (C) following his fatal crash just four minutes after the start of the Malaysian MotoGP race
Devastated: Colin Edwards of the US who was involved in the crash stands at the side of the track after the fatal crash
'Everybody in the paddock remains in shock. Many times we ourselves forget how dangerous this sport can be and when you lose people on the way nothing has any meaning. It's clear that we all do what we like, what we love, but on days like today nothing matters.'
British Formula One driver Jenson Button wrote on his Twitter account: 'R.I.P Marco... Such an exciting talent lost. My thoughts are with his family, friends and everyone involved in MotoGP. Motorsport can be so cruel...'
Newly-crowned MotoGP champion Casey Stoner said: 'I'm so shocked and saddened by the loss of Marco. When things like this happen it reminds you how precious life is.
The Australian told BBC2: 'As soon as I saw the footage it just makes you sick inside. Whenever the helmet comes off, that's not a good sign.'
A message on the MotoGP website read: 'Marco Simoncelli succumbed to injuries sustained in Malaysia.'
Simoncelli's compatriot and Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso said: 'I watched the images and I'm shocked: in a race you fight and push hard and disaster is often around the corner.
'Marco was a strong rider and he always pushed hard. We raced together since we were kids, I saw him always pushing to the maximum, he crashed many times, but without major injuries, he was seemed invincible. What happened today seems impossible.'
Devastation: Simonelli's mother Rossella is comforted outside the medical center after her son's fatal crash
Agony: Marco Simoncelli's father is comforted as he waits outside a medical centre where the rider was taken following a crash at the Malaysian Grand Prix
Crew members of the Honda team of Marco Simoncelli of Italy console each other as they gather outside a medical centre where the rider was taken following a crash at the Malaysian Grand Prix
Empty: Simoncelli's girlfriend Kate walks through an empty Honda garage after the shocking accident
Inconsolable: Stunned fans wept after the brutal accident killed the MotoGP star
The last death in MotoGP came at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix, when Japan's Daijiro Katoh died from his injuries.
Medical director at Clinica Mobile Dr Michele Macchiagodena said at a press conference today that U.S. rider Edwards had suffered a dislocated shoulder in the crash but it had been reset and he was 'fine'.
When asked about Simoncelli's helmet coming off, race director Paul Butler said at the press conference: 'I think if I may reply, that will be for another occasion. Quite clearly the consequences and circumstances surrounding the accident will be thoroughly investigated.'
Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber wrote on Twitter: 'R.I.P Marco A special talent that will be missed... Thinking of your loved ones, and all the motogp paddock..mark.'
British MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow tweeted: 'RIP Marco Simoncelli ! A great rider and all round nice guy. My thoughts are with all his family & friends. I will never forget today.'
Just after the accident, Tony Elias, Moto2 world champion, had spoken of his prayers that Simoncelli's injuries were not serious.
'We just hope Marco is OK - that's my wish,' he said.
Last week British IndyCar racing driver Dan Wheldon died after he was catapulted helplessly into the air in a 225mph smash before landing on a barrier and suffering fatal head injuries.
Just days earlier the father-of-two joined a number of other drivers in expressing the fears over the speed of cars and overcrowding on the oval-shaped track.
But in a blog post, he had promised fans he would go out to win and put on a show of 'pure entertainment'.
Grief: Simonelli's spare motorcycle sites in an empty garage after the race was abandoned one lap in after his sudden death