Tributes have flooded in for the young rider, Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, who died racing at this year’s North West 200.
The 20-year-old, who was competing at the North West for the first time, lost his life after crashing out of Saturday’s Supertwins race while fighting for a rostrum finish.
The Manx Grand Prix winner was impressing on his debut at the Triangle circuit; he’d finished fifth in Thursday’s opening Supertwins race before going on to fight for a podium in the second supersport encounter on Saturday against the more experienced Peter Hickman.
Battling for second place when he crashed, Mitchell-Thomas was attended to by trackside medics but succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
Cookstown Burrows Engineering team boss John Burrows was among the first to pay tribute to his rider: “Malachi had only been with the team a few months but he quickly became part of the family and we will all miss him so much. He loved life and racing and the talent and enthusiasm just bubbled out of him.
“He was a joy to be around. Before he started the Supertwins race he had a massive smile on his face as he had just ridden the race of his life, finishing fourth in the Supersport race ahead of the likes of Dean Harrison, John McGuinness and James Hillier. I will never forget that smile, it’s just so cruel that we’ve lost him.”
North West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte added: “It’s sad; he had great prospects for the future. He’d finished fourth in the supersport race earlier in the day. He was a lovely lad; I talked to him on a few occasions this week. He was a young lad, full of life and a really nice guy.
“The first day he arrived, I hadn’t met him before, he came over and we had a good chat about the North West and the newcomers briefing. He was very positive and keen to get out at the event. It’s so, so unfortunate that this has happened.”
Malachi’s father, Kevin, gave a heart-wrenching tribute to his son on BBC TV: “I have lost my best friend – I have lost my son, but he died doing what he wanted to do. He did not have a bad bone in his body and nobody had a bad word to say about him.
“We came here through hard work, grit, determination and mostly a desire to win races. I have never seen desire like he had. He had taken to the roads, the crowds had taken to him. He was a petrol head and just wanted to go faster.”
Further tributes for the youngster have flooded in on social media, including messages from some of motorcycle racing’s leading riders such as 23-time TT winner John McGuinness, reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea and four-time WSB champion Carl Fogarty.