Exactly a week after British star Dan Wheldon died at the IndyCar 300 in Las Vegas, Gresini Honda rider Marco Simoncelli was killed in a crash at the Malaysian Grand Prix at the MotoGP motorcycle race in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

Friends and family couldn't help but be mute witnesses to the gruesome crash that took place right in front of their eyes as Simoncelli lost control of his bike on the second lap of the circuit in Sepang and was hit by Colin Edwards and then Valentino Rossi as he slid across the track.

In the crash, the 24-year-old rider's helmet came off and had that not happened, perhaps he would not have been injured so gravely and could have survived.

Simoncelli was immediately taken to a medical centre for treatment but it was to no avail since he had suffered serious trauma to the head, neck and chest.

According to a report in freemalasiatoday.com, Simoncelli had tyre marks visible on his neck when he was lying motionless on the track.

The organizers canceled Sunday's race as soon as the extent of Simoncelli's injuries became apparent, a Daily Mail report said.

But then, shockingly, at that moment the crowd behaved in a very insensitive manner. It seems, they wanted the race to continue despite witnessing the horrible accident and loss of a rider.

The 64,000-plus crowd showed their callous nature and wanted the race to continue despite the tragedy as they had paid RM270 for their grandstand tickets, freemalasiatoday.com reported.

According to the report, the fans shouted and yelled and threw packed drinks and rubbish onto the track facing the main grandstand.

The fans apparently wanted the main race to continue in spite of the video footage that showed Simoncelli's girlfriend Kate weeping openly moments after the fatal crash.

MotoGP star Rossi was riding behind Simoncelli who lost control and skid across Edwards' and Rossi's path.

Rossi, a close friend of Simoncelli's and a seven-time winner, tweeted: 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.

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

All I can say is how sorry I am for Marco's whole family. I can't imagine what they are all going through and our thoughts and wishes are with them at this time. I hope they all stay close and pull through this tragedy together.

Medical director Dr. Michele Macchiagodena said of Simoncelli: Because of the crash he had during the race, in which he was hit by other riders, he suffered a very serious trauma to the head, to the neck and the chest.

When our medical staff got to him he was unconscious. In the ambulance because there was a cardiac arrest they started CPR (cardiac pulmonary resuscitation).

Immediately in the medical centre, with the help also of the doctor of our staff at the Clinica Mobile and local doctors, he was intubated and it was possible to take off some blood from the thorax.

The CPR was continued for 45 minutes because we tried to help him for as long as we thought it was possible. Unfortunately it was not possible to help him and at 16:56 (local time) we had to declare he was dead, he said in a press conference.

According to Dailymail, Simoncelli's compatriot and Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso said: I watched the images and I'm shocked: in a race you fight and push hard and disaster is often around the corner.

Marco was a strong rider and he always pushed hard. 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.

Simoncelli finished eighth overall last season at MotoGP 2010.

When race director Paul Butler was asked about Simoncelli's helmet coming off, he said at the press conference: I think if I may reply, that will be for another occasion. Quite clearly the consequences and circumstances surrounding the accident will be thoroughly investigated. Whenever the helmet comes off that's not a good sign.

Social networking sites are flooded with tributes for Simoncelli.

A message on Simoncelli's Gresini Honda team Web site read simply CIAO 'SUPER SIC'.

The Rizla Suzuki team wrote: All at Rizla Suzuki are deeply affected by today's tragic events and send their deepest condolences to Marco's family and friends during this time of great loss.

R.I.P Marco Simoncelli, 20 January 1987 - 23 October 2011 - A true competitor.

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