Tributes pour in for Simoncelli
Sepang - Marco Simoncelli, the Italian Honda rider who died here on Sunday, was a flamboyant, well-liked and talented member of the world motorcycling family.
Video: Tragic crash at Sepang
With his distinctive mop-haired appearance he was impossible to miss off a bike, while on it his talent ensured the spotlight was never far away.
Ironically it was on the Sepang circuit where he suffered fatal injuries in a crash on turn 11 in the Malaysian Grand Prix that he had experienced his finest hour.
That came on October 19, 2008, when he finished third to clinch that season's 250cc title.
Born in the Adriatic coastal town of Cattolica on January 20, 1987, Simoncelli graduated from competing in the domestic Italian motorcycling championship to 125cc bikes in 2002 with the Aprilia team.
His first win came from pole in Spain in 2004.
He moved up to the 250cc class in 2006 with Gilera, clinching the world championship two seasons later.
After 12 wins in 250cc he joined the big league, the MotoGP category, in 2010 with Honda.
In May he was involved in a controversial crash with Dani Pedrosa at the French GP in Le Mans which left Pedrosa requiring surgery on a shoulder fracture.
Simoncelli was judged to have performed an illegal manoeuvre and subsequently received threats from Spanish motorcycling fans blaming him for Pedrosa's fall.
He achieved his best result in MotoGP with a second place to world champion Casey Stoner in Australia last Sunday.
One week later his fledgling MotoGP career was cruelly cut short.
Formula One driver Mark Webber led the tributes to the 24-year-old, posting a message on social networking site Twitter: "RIP Marco. A special talent that will be missed. Thinking of your loved ones and all the MotoGP paddock."
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."
Reflecting on Simoncelli's horrific accident Stoner told the BBC: "As soon as I saw the footage it just makes you sick inside. Whenever the helmet comes off that's not a good sign.