The MotoGP fraternity has been paying tribute to Shoya Tomizawa, who lost his life following an accident in the Moto2 race at Misano on Sunday.
The 19-year-old Japanese rider suffered severe head, chest and abdominal injuries when he fell while running fourth and slid into the path of Alex de Angelis and Scott Redding, who had no time to take avoiding action and struck Tomizawa at high speed. He was pronounced dead in a local hospital two hours later.
Tomizawa was in his second year at world championship level, and had established himself as one of the most promising talents in the inaugural Moto2 championship. He had only been 17th in the 250cc series last year – his first ever season outside the Japanese scene – but stunned the paddock by winning the first ever Moto2 race in Qatar for the Technomag-CIP team. Although he was not able to stay at the forefront of the title fight, he continued to prove his speed by taking pole at Jerez and Brno.
Here are some of the tributes paid by leading figures from the world championship.
Dani Pedrosa (Honda MotoGP rider and San Marino GP winner)
"There are no words to say how it feels after this victory – it feels like nothing. I arrived at parc ferme very happy with the win and I immediately felt that the atmosphere among my mechanics was really strange, everybody was serious. Still with my helmet on they told me about Tomizawa and I couldn't react. It was a big shock, a big contrast for me. I asked three times if it was true because I couldn't believe it. It's so sad, terrible, and these things should never happen.
"As a person I can only say that he was a very funny boy, always happy and making jokes, and as a rider he earned respect from everybody in a very short time, he was fast and brave. To lose two riders in a week is terrible. I believe everybody in the world championship is feeling the same now and I want to send my condolences to the family. When you are born, life gives you the chance to choose what you want to do. Tomi chose to be a rider and, in fact, he was doing great. I just want to think that he's been happy making his dream come true."
Toni Elias (Moto2 championship leader and Misano race winner)
"All I feel is sadness right now and my victory today is irrelevant. I was talking and joking with Tomizawa only yesterday in the Clinica Mobile and to think that he is no longer with us is truly awful. Even today we were out there racing together when he was in front of me before this incredible tragedy. He has left an indelible mark on my life."
Marco Simoncelli (MotoGP rider and former 250cc rival)
"There is not much to say – it's been a tough day and the race is insignificant. Two tragedies in a week is too much. Last Sunday a boy of just 13 and today Tomizawa, who was only 19. Unfortunately, this is the risk of racing motorcycles but when something like this happens it is simply terrible and I feel so sorry."
Fausto Gresini (Gresini Racing team boss)
"Today is a very sad and very tough day, when racing doesn't feel like it should. I know just how hard it is to lose a rider in these circumstances and I know the pain that his family and all the guys on the team who worked with him are feeling right now. There is little more to say. This is an extremely sad day. We knew immediately that the incident was serious but you always hope at times like this that there will be a miracle and the rider will get to his feet. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case today."
Andrea Dovizioso (Honda MotoGP rider)
"My thoughts are with Shoya Tomizawa. I was informed after the race and the news is like a slap in the face. Two tragic accidents in two races is so terrible and it reminds us how dangerous is our job. The safety commission has improved safety levels so much that we often forget this aspect.
"I'm so sorry for Tomizawa's family. Having become a father I can understand that this is the worst thing that can happen for a family. Unfortunately, we couldn't do anything: these were two casualties, two accidents with a similar dynamic where the track-side barriers were not touched. This can happen and this is why our job is so risky."
Herve Poncharal (Tech 3 team boss)
"On behalf of everyone at Tech 3 Yamaha, I'd like to send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Shoya Tomizawa. He was a great talent and a really good guy who will be missed by all of us in the racing community."
Casey Stoner (Ducati MotoGP rider)
"I am deeply saddened for Tomizawa, his family and everybody who worked with him. It is something truly terrible and it left me breathless, like a week ago. It was a pleasure to watch him ride and I was looking forward to see him have a great career."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati MotoGP rider)
"I am really sad, we have lost two riders in two weekends. My thoughts are with his family and his team but I think the whole paddock has been hit hard by this tragedy. At the end of the day, we are all brothers here. We have lost a talented kid with a great personality. I loved his style, his determination and the smile he always wore."
Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki MotoGP rider and former 250cc rival)
"When we had finished the race I heard the news about Tomizawa and I am just so sorry for him and all his family. It is a hard day for all riders, I am sure he will stay with us always and I hope he is now in a better place."
Jorge Lorenzo (MotoGP championship leader)
"It's a huge pity because he was a good guy and a strong rider. I am so sad and I just want to say how sorry I am for his family and his friends. When this happens nothing else matters."
Wilco Zeelenberg (Lorenzo's team manager at Yamaha)
"We would like to say how sorry we are about Tomizawa, he was clearly a huge talent who was destined to be here in MotoGP one day."
Valentino Rossi (MotoGP world champion)
"When something so sad like this happens everything else goes to zero and the result doesn't matter. I'm so sorry for Shoya because he was a strong rider but above all he was very 'sympatico.' He was very funny, always smiling and he always had nice things to say to everyone. He was also very young with a great career ahead of him so we are all very sad."