Misano: World champion Valentino Rossi led emotional tributes to Shoya Tomizawa, the Japanese rider killed at San Marino, describing the teenager as a very good rider with a great future ahead of him.
The 19-year-old Tomizawa died from injuries sustained in a crash here on Sunday.
"Shoya Tomizawa was a very good rider. He was funny, always smiling with a kind word for everyone. He was also very young, with a great career ahead of him," said Rossi.
"My result today is of no importance when you consider what has happened," added the great Italian, who was third in the showcase MotoGP race behind Spain`s Dani Pedrosa.
"I saw the crash on TV and it was terrifying. I thought he was dead. I am very sorry but then we had to race and try and concentrate."
Technomag-CIP rider Tomizawa came off his Suter bike when under pressure from the fast charging Italian Alex de Angelis in the Moto2 race, the second tier competition of the world championship.
Neither de Angelis nor British rider Scott Redding were able to avoid hitting the teenager, who was propelled over 40 metres and off the track into the gravel.
Tomizawa was taken to hospital 30 kilometres away in Riccione but was later pronounced dead. He had suffered serious injuries to his skull, chest and abdomen, according to the race organisers.
Pedrosa admitted it took time for news of Tomizawa`s death to sink in after he had added victory here to his triumph last weekend in Indianapolis.
"When I got back to the garage, there was a really heavy atmosphere," said the Spaniard.
"All of the mechanics had serious looks. I still had my helmet on and I couldn`t believe what I was hearing. I had to ask them three times before I believed it," he said.
"`Tomi` had won the respect of everybody in a very short time. He was quick and very brave."
Tomizawa`s death was the first in MotoGP since 24-year-old compatriot Daijiro Kato was killed in April 2003 at the Japanese MotoGP in Suzuka.
Tomizawa was in his first season in the Moto2 category, after two disappointing seasons in 250cc, and had started in style by winning the curtain-raiser in Qatar.
He followed it up with a second place in Spain but his form had tailed off since then and he was seventh in the overall standings with 82 points.