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Ulster biking fans mourn sudden death of Hungarian ace Sandor Bitter who raced in Ulster

By Paul Lindsay and Amanda Ferguson

Published 10/09/2015

Sandor Bitter
Sandor Bitter
Sandor Bitter at the Tandragee 100 four years ago

Tributes have been paid to popular Hungarian road racer Sandor Bitter following his untimely death.

Fans of road racing in Northern Ireland has been left shocked and saddened after the sudden passing of the popular sportsman and journalist yesterday.

Vauxhall International North West 200 director Mervyn Whyte described him as a "real happy-go-lucky character".

The 43-year-old from Budapest was a regular in road racing paddocks for around a decade and this season had been riding for Stephen Thompson's T&R Motorsport BMW team.

His 'live fast, play hard' motto was instrumental in the former Hungarian champion competing in his home championship and the World Endurance scene.

This year he escaped serious injury after crashing at Ballysally roundabout in the Thursday night Superstock race, but he suffered hand, rib and back injuries when he came off the T&R Motorsport BMW.

Mervyn Whyte told the Belfast Telegraph he was saddened to learn of the sportsman's death.

"I have known Sandor for a long number of years," he said.

"He crashed out at Ballysally roundabout in May and was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure and had kept in touch with me ever since he went back to Hungary. Only last Wednesday he text me to get some details for his governing body of the sport, FIM in Hungary, saying he was in good form and everything was going good. I was in the process of pulling information together.

"I am very sad to hear he is gone. He was a good character.

"He had raced in the North West and I had spent some time with him.

"A really nice, friendly guy."

The former Olympic boxer also rode for Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki team in 2011 and was a regular at the end of season Macau Grand Prix.

He made his Isle of Man TT debut in 2006, with his best result coming in the 2009 Senior TT in 29th position.

Social media has been awash with tributes to the larger-than-life character, with BSB regular and top TT newcomer Peter Hickman posting on his Twitter feed: "Shocked to hear Sandor Bitti Bitter is no longer with us - you made me laugh so much these last couple of years mate. RIP."

The Hungarian was a good friend of TT legend John McGuinness and once described the Morecambe man's novel approach to helping him learn the TT course.

Bitter said: "One of us drives a car, the other, next to him, is the co-driver and the last sits in the back blindfolded and dictates the route - corners, braking distances and gears.

"McGuinness plays with us sometimes, he doesn't brake or change gear until we tell him to, so the situation can get really hot."

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