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Spanish motorcyclist Luis Salom dies in practice crash

Moto2 rider Luis Salom has died after crashing during practice for the Catalunya Grand Prix near Barcelona. The Mallorcan rider was 24.

Spanish Moto2 rider Luis Salom succumbed to his injuries on Friday after a crash during the second practice session for the Catalunya Grand Prix, race organizers said.

"He underwent surgery but despite the best efforts of the trauma team, he passed away," said Giancarlo Di Filippo, a medical director for the International Motorcycling Federation.

The 24-year-old "will be remembered for his hard riding, his valiant Moto3 title challenges in 2012 and 2013 and his dedication to his family," MotoGP said in a statement.

Moto2 is the junior series to MotoGP, on smaller bikes, with Moto3 another step lower; the three sets of riders and teams travel the world together, competing at the same circuits as part of weekend-long events.

The crash occurred at Turn 12 at the challenging Montmelo track close to Barcelona with only 25 minutes remaining in the Moto2 second free practice session.

Security camera images showed that Salom was not able to make the turn. His bike slid across the track with the rider behind, crashing into a safety barrier.

"We have to see if something broke on his bike," veteran MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi said. "It appeared he went straight."

Although he was treated at the track and underwent surgery at a nearby hospital, he passed away from his injuries.

Following the accident, MotoGP world champion and fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo tweeted: "Destroyed, very sad and speechless. All my love to your family. RIP Luis Salom."

Dani Pedrosa, another Spanish MotoGP rider for Honda Repsol, also tweeted his condolences: "Devastated by the loss of a great friend! My sincere condolences to the family. We will always remember you."

Two-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez called the loss "a hard blow for all the World Championship."

Salom entered Moto2 in 2014 and had three podium finishes in 41 races. This year, he moved to the SAG team and finished second place in the opening round of 2016 at Losail in Qatar. He was 10th in the championship standings.

He had nine wins in Moto3 and finished second in the championship in 2012 and third in 2013.

Salom is the first rider the MotoGP family has lost since the death of Italian Marco Simoncelli during the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2011. The hard-charging Italian was killed in the early laps of the MotoGP race that October weekend.

rs/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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