Italian rider, age 24, killed in crash

Marco Simoncelli, a rising MotoGP star, died Sunday at the same Malaysian circuit where the Italian won the 250cc world title in 2008. He was 24.

Nicknamed 'Super Sic' and sporting a mop of curly hair, Simoncelli was predicted by many to be a future MotoGP world champion. He died a week after Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed in a 15-car accident in the IndyCar finale at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Simoncelli lost control of his Honda at turn 11 four minutes into the Malaysian MotoGP. After regaining partial grip, Simoncelli's bike swerved across the track — and into the path of American Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi of Italy.

"Marco was a strong rider and he always pushed hard," said Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso of Italy. "We raced together since we were kids, I saw him always pushing to the maximum, he crashed many times, but without major injuries, he seemed invincible. What happened today seems impossible."

Rossi had been one of the first riders to praise Simoncelli's desire to win.

"Going into a duel with him is like going into a fight with someone bigger than you," Rossi said. "You know he's going to take you."

Rossi posted a message on Twitter later Sunday praising his friend.

"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."

Simoncelli was born on Jan. 20, 1987, in Cattolica in eastern Italy. He developed a passion for the sport at a young age and started racing in the Minibike Championships when he was 7.

Simoncelli moved to MotoGP in 2010. His best result in his debut season was fourth in Portugal, and he ended the year in eighth position.

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