Hiroshi Aoyama devastated by team-mate Marco Simoncelli’s death

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Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama has spoken of his sorrow at the death of San Carlo Gresini Honda team-mate Marco Simoncelli during yesterday’s Sepang MotoGP race in Malaysia.

The Italian lost his life after sustaining major head, neck and chest trauma in a second lap crash that involved Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi.

Simoncelli lost control of his factory RC212V machine at Turn 11 and was struck by Edwards and Rossi. Despite frantic efforts to resuscitate him, the former 250GP world champion passed away.

It was the second personal tragedy in 13 months for Aoyama, who lost compatriot Shoya Tomizawa in a fatal Moto2 crash at Misano.

Aoyama, who is leaving MotoGP at the end of 2011 to switch to World Superbikes with Ten Kate Honda, tweeted: "I still can't believe it. It is like a nightmare."

And in a personal message he said: "My team-mate Marco crashed during the race yesterday. He was fighting hard for his life but unfortunately he passed away. I can’t think of any words to describe this tragic loss. He was loved by so many people and I know why. Last week he came second and was on the podium. And this week again he was so powerful on his bike. But why? How? That is all I can think right now. I would like to give my condolences to Marco’s family, fans, teams and staff. Rest in peace Marco."

It is not clear whether Aoyama will take part in next weekend's Valencia MotoGP round, with numerous reports in Italy quoting distraught team manager Fausto Gresini that his squad won't be participating in the season finale on November 6.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt