Motorcycle racing and racing enthusiasts are still in shock over the death one of the most recognizable figures in the sport, and an investigation may be looming.

One week after British IndyCar star Dan Wheldon died in a fiery accident, Marco Simoncelli, one of the best MotoGP riders in the world, was killed in a horrific crash near Kuala Lumpur.

The 24-year-old Italian crashed after being hit by two other riders, and was then sent to the local medical center where he was pronounced dead 45 minutes later of chest, head and neck injuries.

Simoncelli was motionless on the track following the collision, and his helmet had come off.

How the crash occurred was difficult to tell. Simoncelli had lost control of his Honda at Turn 11, just four minutes into the race, His bike regained partial grip and swerved across the track, where he ended up in the path of Italian racer Valentino Rossi and American Colin Edwards.

Edwards dislocated a shoulder in the crash, but Rossi returned to the pits.

Officials were interested in restarting the race before they learned the extent of Simoncelli's injury, but the race was later cancelled as news became clearer.

The race took place in front of over 64,000 fans, and some decided to throw bottles and trash onto the track facing the grandstand in protest of the race being called off. According to Freemalaysiatoday.com, video footage was shown of Simoncelli's girlfriend weeping in the stands moments after the crash, but that that did not deter some unsympathetic fans from showing their displeasure.

Race director Paul Butler said there will be an investigation into the crash. However, World Superbike champion James Toseland claims that better safety measures wouldn't have prevented Simoncelli's death.

It was a freak accident, said Toseland, to BBC Sport. There's nothing much more we can do to make the sport safer.

The ultimate price is that you lose your life. This is a dangerous job.

Simoncelli won the 250cc world championship in 2008 and clinched the crown in Sepang. He moved up into MotoGP in 2010 where he finished eighth overall last season. His nickname was Sic and he was well-liked and respected in the sport.

Marco was flamboyant on and off the track, said Matt Roberts, a BBC MotoGP broadcaster. When someone dies, everyone always says they loved life. But he had a very vibrant personality. He already had a huge fanbase around the world, partly down to aggressive riding, but also because he was just a cool guy. He didn't take himself too seriously and would have been a big star for next year.

Newly crowned MotoGP champion Casey Stoner of Australia feared for Simoncelli the moment he witnessed the crash.

As soon as I saw the footage it just makes you sick inside, said Stoner, the 2011 world champion, and Honda team-mate, to the BBC. Whenever the helmet comes off, that's not a good sign.

I'm so shocked and saddened by the loss of Marco, Stoner added. When things like this happen it reminds you how precious life is, it makes me feel sick inside.

Seven-time champion Rossi, who was a close friend of Simoncelli, posted this on Twitter: Sic for me was like a youngest brother. So strong on track and so sweet in the normal life. I will miss him a lot.

Sunday's fatal accident came just seven days after Wheldon crashed and died in Las Vegas. Wheldon's funeral services were held on Saturday.

The Italian motorcycling federation canceled all events planned for Sunday at the Mugello circuit near Florence. 

Simoncelli's death was the first in MotoGP since Daijiro Katoh died from injuries at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix.

Here is a look at the accident (Warning: Video is graphic)

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