MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli has been killed in a collision at the Malaysian motorcycle Grand Prix which took place earlier today. He was 24. The Italian, who was racing in his second season in the top category, was battling with Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista when his Honda lost front-end grip. As Simoncelli struggled to stay on the bike, it veered into the path of Yamaha rider Colin Edwards and Ducati rider Valentino Rossi, neither of whom had time to react. Medical personnel were on the scene immediately to take Simoncelli to the medical centre, but despite the best efforts of the medical centre he was pronounced dead at 4:56pm local time. The race had already been cancelled in light of reports that he was in critical condition, reports which sadly proved all too true. His death comes just over a year after the death of Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa at Misano, and is the first fatality in the top category since Daijiro Katoh at Suzuka in 2003.

Marco was a very talented rider and widely regarded as a future champion in the making, and in his all-too-brief career he had won the hearts of many, both in the community and among spectators. It is a tragedy that a young man with such promise has had his life taken away so soon, particularly in light of the equally tragic loss of Dan Wheldon barely a week ago. It has been a very black week for motor racing indeed.

My thoughts and prayers are with Marco, his family and friends, and the entire MotoGP community at this desperately sad time.