Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 April 2015

North West 200: Tragedy and triumph in sharp focus

Relentless International North West 200. May 2012
Relentless International North West 200. May 2012
MSS Bathams Kawasaki rider Chris Martin runs off the road at Black Hill and crashes during practice session
North West 200 2012
North West 200 2012
North West 200 2012
North West 200 2012
North West 200 2012
Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia 20 May 2012....The Harron Family Niall, Donna, Jordan,and Zoe lay floral tributes where Mark Buckley from Loch Lomond in Scotland lost his life during the North West 200 on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia 20 May 2012.... floral tributes and pictures where Mark Buckley from Loch Lomond in Scotland lost his life during the North West 200 on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia 20 May 2012.... floral tributes where Mark Buckley from Loch Lomond in Scotland lost his life during the North West 200 on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia 20 May 2012....The Harron Family Niall, Donna, Jordan,and Zoe lay floral tributes where Mark Buckley from Loch Lomond in Scotland lost his life during the North West 200 on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia 20 May 2012....Jordan,Harron reflects on the life of Mark Buckley from Loch Lomond in Scotland lost his life during the North West 200 on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia 20 May 2012.... Zoe Harron lays floral tributes where Mark Buckley from Loch Lomond in Scotland lost his life during the North West 200 on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
Kevin McAuley Photography Multimedia 20 May 2012....tributesand messages of smypathy where Mark Buckley from Loch Lomond in Scotland lost his life during the North West 200 on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2012: A tearful Mervyn Whyte. North West 200 Director.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 19/5/2012: Mark Buckley (66, centre) sets off from the line in front of a huge crowd in the Superstock race at the North West 200 today. Mark crashed his Aprilia less than mile later and sustained fatal injuries in the crash.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th May 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ Presseye.comRelentless International North West 200Alastair Seeley Tyco Suzuki rides to victory during the McAvoy Group NW200 Superbike Race at the Relentless North West 200.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy talks to Carl Fogarty before the start of the fourth race at the North West 200 today.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.McAvoy Group Superbike race.Race winner Alastair Seeley celebrates.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 19/05/12: Tyco Suzuki rider Guy Martin crashes just before Black Hill during the first Supersport race at today's North West 200
Giant Ride Out...Motorcyclists make their way off Stena Lines Superfast ferry during the Giant Ride Out in aid of Action Medical Reseach. Top motorbike road racers Jeremy McWilliams and Josh Brookes kick started the Giant Ride Out, as they led the cavalcade of bikers off the ferry in Belfast.The Giant Ride Out saw the motorbike riders travelling on the Stena Line Superfast ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast and onto The Paddock at The Relentless International North West 200. The bikers stopped off enroute where they had the chance to break, refuel and chat with Jeremy and Josh ahead of the weekends competition.
Giant Ride Out...Top motorbike road racers Jeremy McWilliams and Josh Brookes kick start the Giant Ride Out, in aid of Action Medical Research, as they lead a cavalcade of bikers off the Stena Line Superfast ferry in Belfast.The Giant Ride Out saw the motorbike riders travelling on the Stena Line Superfast ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast and onto The Paddock at The Relentless International North West 200. The bikers stopped off enroute where they had the chance to break, refuel and chat with Jeremy and Josh ahead of the weekends competition.
Giant Ride Out...TV Personality and Patron of Action Medical Research Pamela Ballantine and Stena Lines Head of PR and Communications Diane Poole OBE kick start the Giant Ride Out, along with top motorbike road racers Jeremy McWilliams and Josh Brookes.The Giant Ride Out saw a cavalcade of riders travelling on the Stena Line Superfast ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast and onto The Paddock at The Relentless International North West 200. The bikers stopped off enroute where they had the chance to break, refuel and chat with Jeremy and Josh ahead of the weekends competition.
Mark Buckley
Relentless International North West 200.Vauxhall Supertwin race.Race winner Ryan Farquhar celebrates his win.
Relentless International North West 200.Vauxhall Supertwin race.Race winner Ryan Farquhar celebrates his win with team mates Michael Rutter and Jeremy McWilliams.
Relentless International North West 200.Livewire AV Superstock race.Race winner Alastair Seeley.
Relentless International North West 200.Vauxhall Supertwin race.Race winner Ryan Farquhar celebrates his win.
Relentless International North West 200.Livewire AV Superstock race.Race winner Alastair Seeley.
Tyco Suzuki rider Josh Brookes pictured at the Relentless International North West 200.
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PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: MSS Bathams Kawasaki rider Chris Martin runs off the road at Black Hill and crashes during today's practice session for the RelentlesS North West 200.PICTURE BY JOHN TENNANT
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: MSS Bathams Kawasaki rider Chris Martin runs off the road at Black Hill and crashes during today's practice session for the RelentlesS North West 200.PICTURE BY JOHN TENNANT
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Ryan Farguhar on the grid.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Supertwins Race. First Minister Peter Robinson presents winner Ryan Farguhar with his trophy with Jeremy McWilliams(left) second and Michael Rutter(right) third.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -17th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.Livewire AV Superstock race.Simon Andrews.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -17th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.Vauxhall Supertwin race.First Minister Peter Robinson chats with Supertwin rider Jeremy McWilliams and North West Technical Director Mervyn Whyte pictured before the start of the Vauxhall supertiwn race.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -17th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.Vauxhall Supertwin race.Race winner Ryan Farquhar celebrates his win.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -15th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way to start the week of racing around the triangle. Alastair Seeley.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Supertwins Race. Winner Ryan Farguhar pictured with daughter Mya.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Ryan Farguhar on the grid.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Ryan Farguhar on the grid.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. John McGuinness on the grid.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Alastair Seeley on the grid.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. General views of the grid.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Ian Hutchinson.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. John McGuinness on the grid.
Northern Ireland- 17th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Alastair Seeley on the grid.
Molly Robinson age 5 from Antrim and Chad McLaughlin also age 5 from Ballymoney in action at the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Nine years old Luke Clements in the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
A last minute chat about race tactics between school pals Chad McLaughlin and Joe Lynas from Stranocum, both aged 5, at the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
17/5/2012. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Ian Hutchinson during todays Superstock class North West 200 practice session. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
17/5/2012. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Michael Dunlop during todays Superstock class North West 200 practice session. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
17/5/2012. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Michael Dunlop during todays Superstock class North West 200 practice session. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White/PresseyeRelentless International North West 200Thursday Practice Date: 17th May 2012Caption: Alastair Seeley (34), Superstock
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White/PresseyeRelentless International North West 200Superstock RaceDate: 17th May 2012Caption: Paul Shoesmith
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White/PresseyeRelentless International North West 200Supertwins RaceDate: 17th May 2012Caption: James Hillier leading Michael Rutter
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -15th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way to start the week of racing around the triangle. Jeremy McWilliams and his Wife Jill.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -17th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.Vauxhall Supertwin race.Race winner Ryan Farquhar celebrates his win.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -17th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.Vauxhall Supertwin race.Race winner Ryan Farquhar celebrates his win with team mates Michael Rutter and Jeremy McWilliams.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -17th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200.Livewire AV Superstock race.
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Four men on the podium! Alastair Seeley was the winner of the Superstock race at the Relentless North West 200 this evening and Lee Johnston (left) was runner up but there was a mix up for third when Italian Stefano Bonetti was declared third before it was realised that Cameron Donald had clinched the final spot. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: First Minister Peter Robinson shares a joke with former North West legend Steve Plater at the Relentless North West 200 tonight.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Superstock race winner Alastair Seeley (Tyco Suzuki) on his way to victory at the Relentless North West 200 today.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Where have they all gone? Jeremy McWilliams (KMR Kawasaki) looks back to see who is behind him as he blasts his way to second spot in his first ever road race in the Supertwins race at the Relentless North West 200 this evening.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Ryan Farquhar celebrates winning the Supertwins race at the Relentless North West 200 this evening.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Reving up for the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Ciaran Tottan arrives for the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Last minute advice for 5 years old Chad McLaughlin from Ballymoney before the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Ian Johnston holds the lead in the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
A young rider makes his way to the start line for the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Braving the weather at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Ian Johnston, Ciaran Tottan and Phil Logan in the Mini Moto Demo at the North West 200 International Road Race family motor fest in Portrush Co-Antrim. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Padgett's Honda star John McGuinness looks to the heavens for rain at today's practice for the Relentless North West 200.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Adrian Archibald (13, McKinstry Kawasaki) leads the Supertwins race off the line but it was the KMR Kawasaki team of Ryan Farquhar (1), Jeremy McWilliams (99) and Michael Rutter (5) who finished in the top three spots on the podium at the Relentless North West 200 today.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: John McGuinness (4, Padgett's Hnoda) leads race winner Alastair Seeley (Tyco Suzuki) and Ryan Farquhar (77, KMR Kawasaki) off the line at the start of the Superstock race at the Relentless North West 200 today.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Superstock race winner Alastair Seeley (Tyco Suzuki) celebrates his victory with team boss Philip Neill and his Dad Joe at the Relentless North West 200 today.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Ryan Farquhar (1) and Jeremy McWilliams (99) celebrate crossing the line first and second in the Supertwins race at the Relentless North West 200 this evening on KMR Kawasakis.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Ryan Farquhar celebrates winning the Supertwins race at the Relentless North West 200 this evening on his KMR Kawasaki with his wife Karen.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Grand Prix legend Jeremy McWilliams celebrates finishing runner up in his first road race in the Supertwins race at the Relentless North West 200 this evening with his wife Jill and sons Jack and Zack.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: Grand Prix legend Jeremy McWilliams celebrates finishing runner up in his first road race in the Supertwins race at the Relentless North West 200 this evening with his wife Jill.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2012: There was a mix up on the Superstock podium at the Relentless North West 200 this evening when Italian Stefano Bonetti was declared third before it was realised that Cameron Donald had clinched the final spot.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Simon Andrews pictured on the grid.
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 16/5/2012: The line up of girls for the 2012 North West 200 at last night's competition - Kathryn Munnis was the overall winner of the 2012 Miss North West 200.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Biker fans shelter from the rain on the grandstand at the grid.
North West 200 2012
North West 200 2012
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Relentless International North West 200.Conor Cummins.
Relentless International North West 200.Bruce Anstey.
Relentless International North West 200.John McGuinness.
Relentless International North West 200.Josh Brooks.
Relentless International North West 200.John McGuinness.
Relentless International North West 200.Bruce Anstey.
Relentless International North West 200.
Relentless International North West 200.Conor Cummins.
Relentless International North West 200.Ian Lougher.
Relentless International North West 200.Simon Andrews.
Relentless International North West 200.Michael Dunlop.
Relentless International North West 200.Michael Dunlop.
Relentless International North West 200.John McGuinness.
Relentless International North West 200.John McGuinness.
Relentless International North West 200.Bruce Anstey.
Relentless International North West 200.Bruce Anstey.
Relentless International North West 200.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Lee Johnston pictured on the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Steve Heneghan pictured on the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Simon Andrews pictured on the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Alastair Seeley pictured on the grid.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -16th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comBallymoney beauty queen 20 year old Kathryn Munnis who was crowned Miss North West 200 on Tuesday night arrives back on land for the Relentless International North West 200.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Stewards clear some water from the course on the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Biker fans shelter from the rain on the grandstand at the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. A North West 200 official clears some water from the course on the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. A North West 200 official pictured on the grid starting a practice session.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. A North West 200 official pictured on the grid starting a practice session.
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 16/5/2012: The line up of girls for the 2012 North West 200 at last night's competition- Kathryn Munnis was the overall winner of the 2012 Miss North West 200.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Jeremy Mcwilliams pictured on the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Conor Cummins pictured on the grid.
International 2012 North West 200. Alastair Seeley pictured on the grid.
North West 200 Jeremy McWilliams (99) followed by Ryan Farquhar during Thursday's wet Supertwin practice session for the Relentless North West 200.
North West 200 Stephen Thompson, Kawasaki during Thursday's wet Supertwin practice session for the Relentless North West 200.
Relentless International North West 200.John Burrows.
Relentless International North West 200.Jeremy McWilliams and Ryan Farquhar.
Relentless International North West 200.Jeremy McWilliams.
Relentless International North West 200.Michael Rutter.
Relentless International North West 200.Steve Platter and Ryan Farquhar.
Relentless International North West 200.Jeremy McWilliams and his wife Jill.
Relentless International North West 200.John Burrows.
Relentless International North West 200.Michael Rutter.
Relentless International North West 200.North West Technical Director Mervyn Whyte.
Relentless International North West 200.Jeremy McWilliams.
Relentless International North West 200.Guy Martin.
Relentless International North West 200.Alastair Seeley.
Relentless International North West 200.John McGuinness.
Relentless International North West 200.Bruce Anstey.
Relentless International North West 200.John McGuinness.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Alastair Seeley pictured on the grid.
Relentless International 2012 North West 200. Willaim Dunlop pictured on the grid.
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North West 200 - May 2012
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -15th May 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way to start the week of racing around the triangle. Ryan Farquhar.
North West 200 - May 2012
North West 200 - May 2012
North West 200 - May 2012
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 16/5/2012: Kathryn Munnis (centre) was the winner of the 2012 Miss North West 200.

Mark Buckley was your typical motorcycle racer.

Not one of the privileged front row with generous sponsors, the most powerful bikes and money no object.

He scrimped and saved and at one point remortgaged his house to go racing.

That was the picture painted by friends and fellow riders of the 35 year-old family man from Loch Lomond in Scotland, who sadly died from his crash injuries in the third race at Saturday's North West 200.

He lived and died for the sport he loved. And the tragedy, which struck in the Superstock race, brought home that no matter how many precautions you take in road racing, there is always an imponderable.

By all accounts, it was a freak racing accident that claimed his life as his Kawasaki hit the footpath, catapulting him against a wall, as he accelerated out of York Corner at Portstewart. No other riders were involved.

The result is a terrible loss for his close family, who were there, his friends and the sport of motorcycle racing.

It cast a shadow over a day when memories of the North West of old were revived with the kind of thrilling racing, daring, high speed battles and stuff of legend that attracted riders like Mark Buckley |(pictured) to the race in the first place.

And that should be his epitaph.

When Mark Buckley, the racer, is remembered it should be for the part he played down the years in making the North West everyman's race.

And that on the day he was sadly taken, the event he loved to compete in was on its way back to reclaiming its place as this island's biggest and greatest sporting spectacle after a fraught few years, culminating in the aborted nadir of 12 months ago when all the fates appeared to conspire against the North West, in the shape of a bomb threat evacuation, freak rain and an oil spill leaving many thousands of saturated and disappointed fans with just a single race completed.

This year, we had the brave experiment of Thursday night racing for the first time, a success beyond all expectations that boded well for Saturday.

And so it proved, or so we thought, as the sun shone and fantastic racing ensued.

We had epic contests out on course; controversy, too, as you expect, with volatile, highly-charged characters jousting at over 100 miles an hour on the open roads; and all the names you associate with the North West in a procession to the podium.

It seemed the script had been written for a glorious day to come when a Dunlop took the first, William winning the Supersport on a red flag from favourite Alastair Seeley, with whom he was later to clash.

Next up, John McGuinness in the first Superbike race, with Seeley second again.

And then Michael Rutter, a hugely popular winner of the Superstock, equalling Joey Dunlop's 13 North West wins.

Seeley, supposedly nailed on for a five-timer, was edged out again even though he crossed the line first, Rutter taking the laurels on corrected time having started in the second wave of riders.

It provided another big talking point for the fans and Seeley, for one, clearly felt it wasn't right.

But he kept his counsel, offered ‘fair do's' and ‘fair play' to his conquerors in the spirit of the day and gained his just reward as he promptly zipped to victory in the concluding Supersport and North West 200 Superbike race of the day, giving him a hat-trick over the meeting with his Thursday Superstock triumph taken into account.

His knockabout with William Dunlop as they engaged in the racing equivalent of hand to hand combat at speed in the second last race only added to the thrills and debate for the vast crowds.

They left the course to make their way home elated only for the mood to suddenly deflate as news filtered through of Mark Buckley's sad fate. The twin extremes of bike racing brought into sharp focus.

Not for the first time, Race Chief Mervyn Whyte was left to offer condolences when he ought to have been accepting plaudits for a job well done.

But he has nothing to reproach himself for, having worked strenuously to make the course as safe as humanly possible and the event the attraction it deserves to be. Alas, there are no guarantees in motorcycle racing as we again cruelly found out to Mark Buckley's cost.

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