Shock as crash claims motorbike racer
ITALIAN sport was in shock yesterday after Marco Simoncelli died following a crash at the Malaysian MotoGP motorcycle race. He was 24.
Simoncelli -- nicknamed Sic or SuperSic -- died of chest, head and neck injuries after he lost control of his Honda at turn 11, four minutes into the race, and swerved across the track, straight into the path of American rider Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi of Italy.
Rossi, a good friend of Simoncelli's, was clearly distraught and was unable to say anything in the immediate aftermath of the accident. He later left a short message on Twitter.
"Sic for me was like a younger brother, as strong on the track as he was sweet in life," Rossi wrote. "I still can't believe it. I will miss him a lot."
In Italy, there was a minute's silence before all football matches and players wore black armbands in tribute
"Today is one of the saddest days of my presidency," said Gianni Petrucci, president of Italian sport's governing body CONI. "The tragic death of Marco Simoncelli has deeply upset and shaken me. Life is sacred and you can't die at the age of 24 for a race. I hoped right until the end that Marco could do it.
"I saw the pain and anguish of his father who was there by his side ... We are all with his family in mourning the death of a champion."
Simoncelli's manager, Carlo Pernat, believes the youngster would have gone on to great things.
"Marco was a cheery boy, everyone's friend," Pernat said. "He had this desire to get to the top, it was really inside him, there was this desire for success because he knew he could have it."