The family of a rising star of motorcycling killed on his North West 200 debut on the same bend that claimed the life of Robert Dunlop has vowed to continue supporting road racing.
Speaking yesterday after the inquest of Cookstown rider Mark Young, who died in May last year, the 22-year-old’s tearful father said he did not want to see the dangerous sport banned.
“We will continue to support road racing,” Neill Young told the Belfast Telegraph. “We would not want to put racing down or anything like that.”
Tipped as a rising star, Mr Young was killed after a 130mph smash at the Mather’s Cross section of the circuit — the same section of track which claimed the life of racing veteran Robert Dunlop a year earlier.
Mr Young suffered a traumatic head injury when he was sent careering off the circuit, hitting a grass verge and safety bale before landing in a field. He died in the Royal Victoria Hospital a day later on May 17, 2009.
At the Old Town Hall in Belfast yesterday, his heartbroken mother wiped away tears as graphic details of the high-speed crash emerged from three race officials.
Robin Anderson, who had been a volunteer marshal at Mather’s Cross on the morning of the crash, said he saw Mark, who had been competing in the 250cc race, being catapulted into the air where he “somersaulted several times” before hitting and dislodging a safety bale.
Patrick Cushnahan, another race marshal, was just 10ft away from the scene of the crash, close to Portrush. His account recalled seeing Mr Young “flipping like a tumble or somersault”.
Meanwhile, Robert Cairns, a flagman at the event, said he had first been alerted by a “scraping sound”.
“The rider was well down on the right hand side. His right leg was out at the knee touching the ground. There were quite a lot of sparks,” he said in a statement which was read to the court.
“I would have estimated Mark Young was travelling very fast as he approached the bend. There was a considerable gap between him and the rest of the pack.”
The inquest had been adjourned in May to allow Senior Coroner John Leckey time to consider evidence from two consulting engineers on the circumstances surrounding the accident. However, Mr Leckey yesterday told the court that, despite careful study of the two reports, he could not reach a determination on the diametrically opposed opinions of each engineer.
“Mark Young died in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast from the effects of a head injury caused while competing in the North West 200,” said the coroner. “This was the first time he had competed. He crashed on the first lap of the first race while negotiating the Mather’s Cross bend. He was travelling at 130mph. A strong blustery wind was blowing at the time.”
Expressing sympathy to the Young family, Mr Leckey added: “It is ironic that Mark Young was killed the first time he competed at the North West 200, on the first lap of the first race. Why he lost control, we don’t know.
“I understand you were very supportive of road racing. I’m told it is like one big family. Perhaps that will be of some comfort.”