27/10/2011 18:28 BST | Updated 27/12/2011 05:12 GMT

In Tribute to Marco Simoncelli

MotoGP at its best is incredibly exciting, but the passing of young Italian rider Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia last Sunday shows the unfortunate downside of our sport.

Marco's crash at the Sepang circuit and the injuries that claimed his life saw MotoGP's first fatality since Japan's Daijiro Katoh passed away in 2003.

These situations are never easy to accept or fully understand, and Marco's family and friends have the deepest sympathy of myself, along with everyone associated with grand prix motorcycle racing and the wider motorcycling community.

Riders are aware of the risks, but typically it's not something we dwell on. That's because we all love the sport and the competition.

I saw Marco race on many occasions, and, at just 24 years of age, he was without doubt a rising star in MotoGP.

He started grand prix racing in the 125cc class at age 15 and in 2008 proved his talent by winning the 250cc world championship title.

Marco was also well known for his outgoing personality which made him a fan favourite around the world, and especially among the Italians who have a special passion for our sport.

Italy has produced a number of world champions in the premier grand prix class (500cc /MotoGP), including legends Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.

It's very sad Marco will not have the opportunity of joining the list.

This blog can also be read on Laureus' website