Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

North West 200: Dangerous sport has endured many fatal accidents

Northern Ireland’s close road racing fraternity will today be coming to terms with the latest death to hit the popular sport.

Cookstown rider Mark Young died after coming off his bike as he was exiting Mathers Cross during the 250cc race.

The 23-year-old was said to be very well-respected and likely to make the grade as a top rider.

Last year, road racing legend Robert Dunlop died after his bike seized at the North West 200 as he approached Mathers Cross, throwing him over the handlebars into the path of another rider during final practice.

And there was overwhelming shock in the summer of 2000 when his brother Joey Dunlop, revered for his legendary achievements around the world, was killed while leading a race in Estonia.

Many other lives have been claimed in Northern Ireland's own road races.

In April last year, Dubliner Martin Finnegan crashed to his death in the Tandragee 100 in Co Armagh.

Three spectators were injured, one a woman who suffered head injuries, when he crashed on the second lap of the 600cc race.

The married father-of-one from Lusk, Co Dublin, had scored a spectacular victory in an earlier race at the popular annual meeting.

Popular Ardglass rider John Dunnan, one of Ulster’s best-known road racers, had been killed at the same race the year before.

The future of road racing was called into question in September 2006 when champion rider Darran Lindsay was killed while competing at the Killalane circuit near Skerries.

The respected and well-known Dundrod racer was 35 and married with three young children, then all under the age of five.

Just the year before, another accomplished rider, 34-year-old Richard Britton from Fermanagh, was killed when his 250cc machine veered off course and struck a bank during a race in Kerry.

Yet another major name was lost to the sport in August 2002 when 31-year-old Gary Jess was killed at the Ulster Grand Prix. He never lived to see his son who was born a few months later.

Two major names were lost to the road during the Ulster Grand Prix in August 2000.

Gary Dynes, then hailed as Ireland's top 250cc rider, was 35 when he was killed in a five-rider pile up during the first lap at Glaslough, Co Monaghan.

Andrew McClean was also killed.

Just a year before Joey Dunlop’s death, the North West 200 champion Owen McNally died six days after crashing during the 1999 Ulster Grand Prix.

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