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NW200 brought to standstill by sponsor's stalled car

By Jonny Bell

The ferocious buzz of the bikes at the North West 200 was brought to an abrupt halt yesterday - by the splurt of a stalling car.

The battery on race director Mervyn Whyte's vehicle - provided by sponsors Vauxhall - died.

It meant the car was stranded just off the exit to the start-finish chicane, bring a temporary halt and the red flag to the superstock practice session.

The official parked off the grid during races to allow him to get to parts of the circuit as fast as possible should the need arise.

Race officials and stewards were dispatched to move the vehicle to a safe position to allow racing to resume.

The red flag was the second of the day. Earlier, Chris Dixon came off his bike at the Black Hill section of the Triangle course during the same practice session.

Shocking images showed him being catapulted into the air after the accident. He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital with a suspected broken femur.

NW200 officials said his injuries were not life-threatening.

Extra safety measures have been put in place ahead of this week's races.

The NW200 received £124,000 from Sport NI to carry out improvements.

More than 200 new bales and 135 kerb protectors have been added and 1.25 miles of new fencing erected at the course, with the event having been marred by a number of accidents in recent years.

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