Celebrated Italian rider Marco Simoncelli died on Sunday after a horror crash that saw the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang cancelled, in the latest tragedy to hit motor sports. The smash occurred just minutes after the race began, when the mop-haired 24-year-old Honda rider’s bike veered across the track and directly into the path of riders Colin Edwards and Simoncelli’s compatriot Valentino Rossi. Simoncelli, who ironically enjoyed his finest hour at Sepang when he finished third to clinch the 2008 season’s 250cc title, had his helmet knocked off in the sickening collision, which happened on turn 11. “Despite their (doctors’) efforts, Marco sadly succumbed to his injuries at 4:56pm local time (0856 GMT),” MotoGP said in a sombre statement. “Everybody involved in MotoGP extends its deepest condolences to Marco’s family, friends and team at this tragic loss.” Motor sports have seen a nightmare stretch recently and Simoncelli’s death looked certain to throw up more awkward questions over safety.