Marco Simoncelli has tragically died due to injuries sustained on the second lap of the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

The Italian fell from fourth place after losing the front of his motorcycle through the right-hand turn 11.

Instead of sliding straight off the race track, as is normal, Simoncelli was then dragged by his bike - which had regained grip and was partially upright - as it veered back across to the inside of the track.

Lying sideways and still facing forwards, the Gresini Honda rider was then hit from behind by Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi, who had no chance to avoid the sliding #58.

Simoncelli's helmet came off during those impacts, which occurred at almost the same time and left Simoncelli motionless on the track. The race was immediately stopped and later cancelled so that medical staff could continue to focus completely on treating the Italian in the medical centre.

Sadly, Simoncelli succumbed to his injuries at 16:56 local time.

Very much a rising star, the 24-year-old was the 2008 250cc world champion and had claimed his best ever MotoGP finish of second place just one week earlier at Phillip Island.

2011 was Simoncelli's second MotoGP season and he had signed to remain with Gresini and Honda next year.

During his grand prix career, which began in 2002, Simoncelli won 14 times - twelve in 250cc and two in 125cc. He took his first two podiums in MotoGP this year.

In a cruel twist of fate, Simoncelli's death is the first in the premier-class since another Gresini rider, Daijiro Kato, was killed at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix.

Shoya Tomizawa died in similar circumstances to Simoncelli in last year's Misano round of the Moto2 World Championship.

Simoncelli, famous for his rock star hair, had a laid-back and fun-loving character which was very much in contrast to his fearless riding style. All qualities that made 'Super Sic' especially popular with fans. joins the motorsport world in offering its deepest condolences to Simoncelli's family, team and friends.

Simoncelli's death comes just one week after IndyCar star Dan Wheldon lost his life during a race in Las Vegas.

Edwards - who fell heavily during the impact - suffered a shoulder dislocation.

As the American sat in the grass waiting to be treated he looked on hollow-eyed at Simoncelli, clearly aware of the seriousness of the incident.

Rossi, a close friend of Simoncelli, ran off track but was able to return to the pits where he joined the rest of the paddock in an anxious wait for news.