North West 200: Female spectator and rider in critical condition after serious crash
A female spectator and a rider are fighting for their lives following a serious crash during the opening race at the North West 200.
The spectator and Crumlin rider Stephen Thompson remain in critical condition at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital.
The woman was airlifted to the hospital for treatment after she was hit by a motorcycle which crashed on the second lap of the opening Superstock race yesterday afternoon.
Thompson (38) who rides for the Bathams BMW team, and another rider, Horst Saiger (43) were treated at the scene before being taken to the Causeway Hospital.
Saiger is in a stable condition while Thompson was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he is in a critical condition.
A third rider, Dean Harrison (26) from England, was unhurt in the crash.
The crash took place on a section of the 14-km circuit where racers exceed speeds of 180 miles per hour.
Race director Mervyn Whyte said both riders were conscious when they were transferred to hospital.
A blog on Dean Harrison's race website noted that conditions were “a bit slippy” due to heavy rain on Friday when the race kicked off.
Mr Thompson, who is a regular competitor at the North West 200, suffered a broken vertebrae after crashing at the Ulster Grand Prix race in August 2012.
The race route is considered one of the most dangerous in the world in which riders reach speeds of 180 miles per hour or more on the closed-off back roads between Portrush, Coleraine and Portstewart on the Co Antrim coastline.
On Thursday Hungarian rider Sandor Bitter crashed during a practise run, but he was able to resume racing today after being treated in hospital for minor injuries.
Sixteen riders have been killed on the circuit since the race began in 1930 with the most recent fatality occurring during last year’s Superstock race in which English rider Simons Andrews, (29), from Evesham died of injuries he sustained after crashing at the Metropole section of the circuit.
Another serious accident took place last year in which French rider Frank Petricola was injured during a practise run.