Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

One of the last pictures of tragic road racing star Simon Andrews... seconds later, disaster struck at North West 200

Simon Andrews setting out on his ill-fated last lap. Rowland White/PressEye
Simon Andrews setting out on his ill-fated last lap. Rowland White/PressEye
Simon Andrews signs autographs for  race fans during the Riders Meet and Greet in Coleraine during the 2014 Vauxhall International North West 200 festival. Pic Stephen Davison
Simon Andrews signs autographs for race fans during the Riders Meet and Greet in Coleraine during the 2014 Vauxhall International North West 200 festival. Pic Stephen Davison
A simple message from two fans in memory of Simon Andrews killed in the North West 200. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
A simple message from two fans in memory of Simon Andrews killed in the North West 200. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.

With concentration etched on his face, tragic motorcycle star Simon Andrews is pictured doing what he loved just minutes before a fatal crash.

The rider died yesterday following the accident during the Superstock race at the North West 200 on Saturday.

The father of the high-profile road racer has told how his son adored the event and competing in Northern Ireland.

His parents, Stuart and Dee, girlfriend Lisa and his best friend were by his bed when he died at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

His father said his organs would be donated and told of Simon's love for the event that would ultimately claim his life at the age of 31.

"We are really devastated. Our hearts are broken – we are shattered," Mr Andrews said.

"Simon loved his racing, he loved the North West, he loved racing over here. He wouldn't have changed anything.

"No matter if we had tried to stop him racing, he would still have wanted to come here.

"He loved the people, he loved the atmosphere, he loved every single moment – he lived his life to the max and he just enjoyed life.

"You never expect that you are going to lose your son, but he just loved racing and you can't stop a grown man doing what he loves.

"It seems to be in their blood, it's an adrenaline rush and they just love being on fast motorcycles."

He added: "They know the risks and we paid the price.

"Simon is no longer here, we have got to pick up the pieces."

He added: "Simon always said 'Once you've been on the roads, there's nothing else to compare with it'."

Further reading:

Simon Andrews: I'm aware of danger... but you get hooked 

English rider Simon Andrews dies in hospital after horrific crash at North West 200 road races

In Pictures: English rider Simon Andrews remembered 

Mr Andrews, from Evesham in Worcestershire, had a motorbike from the age of four and began racing aged 16.

He made his North West 200 debut in 2011.

"He loved the racing, the relaxed atmosphere and the fans he met there," his father said.

"Simon always said that the North West fans were the most knowledgeable in the world as they knew everything about the sport and the bikes.

"Ireland had a special place in his heart as he scored his first ever championship point in a meeting at Mondello Park."

Stuart Andrews said his family was very proud of his son's achievements in the sport.

He said: "Throughout his career, Simon has always been involved with various charities and that is why we have made a donation of his organs today. Simon always wanted that to happen."

In an earlier interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Simon said: "I am definitely an adrenaline junkie. I do other things away from motorcycling, like drifting, snowboarding, sky-diving and I'm avalanche-trained. If I'm not away racing, you can be sure I'll be doing something else. I just have to keep the buzz going."

North West 200 event director Mervyn Whyte said it was a sad day for the sport.

"Simon was a superb rider and a great character in the paddock," he said.

"He will be sadly missed by everyone at the North West 200."

Tributes flooded in for the popular rider last night. Among them was Maria Costello who tweeted: "The sad news we never wanted to hear. Rest in peace Simon. You'll be missed but not forgotten."

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers also took to Twitter to express their sympathy to the Andrews family.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of the motorcyclist's death.

"This is a sad day for motorcycling with the loss of another young rider," she said.

French rider Franck Petriola crashed last Tuesday during practice at the meeting. He was still in a critical condition last night.

Meanwhile, the mother of Co Down rider Michael Pearson flew out to the Czech Republic yesterday to join his wife and father at his bedside as he fights for his life following a crash there.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk