Belfast Telegraph

Girlfriend of tragic racer questions UGP spending safety money on toilets and refurbishments

Jamie Hodson
Jamie Hodson

The girlfriend of a racer who lost his life at the Ulster Grand Prix has spoken out after money earmarked for safety improvements at the track was spent on other improvements including new toilets.

Rachel McKay's boyfriend Jamie Hodson was killed while competing at the Dundrod track on August 10 2017.

Ms McKay said that it "didn't rest well with her", after the BBC reported that out of a £255,000 funding package, £25,000 was spent on safety bales for the track, with the rest being spent on building improvements.

The funding package was announced by then Sports Minister Paul Givan in 2017 as part of £535,000 allocated to improve motorsport safety by the Department of Communities.

It was distributed by Sport NI and speaking when the funding was announced Mr Givan said the money had been provided after Malachi Mitchtell Thomas was killed at the North West 200 in 2016.

Sport NI was aware of how the Ulster Grand Prix intended to spend the money and the Department for Communities has said that it was satisfied the funding had been used as intended.

Since the funding was provided to the Ulster Grand Prix three racers, including Mr Hodson have been killed at the track.

Yorkshire rider Gavin Lupton died at the same race as Mr Hodson in 2017, while French rider Fabrice Miguet lost his life during the 2018 event.

Ms McKay said that more money should have been spent on improving safety at the track.

"The thing that doesn't rest well with me is the actual amount they've spent on safety, especially if that's what they've been given the money for," she told the BBC.

Jamie Hodson racing in the Ulster Grand Prix in 2017
Jamie Hodson racing in the Ulster Grand Prix in 2017

"I don't begrudge them spending money on facilities as they do need updating, but its the sheer amount of money."

Organisers of the Ulster Grand Prix Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club have detailed how the money was spent on safety improvements, including an extension to the riders' paddock at the track.

A new building was erected to help test the safety of bikes. This building included shower and toilet facilities, while £40,000 was spent on hard-surfacing gravel areas to improve wheelchair access.

Money was also spent on the "completion and fit-out" of the track's David Wood Ulster Grand Prix House to enable it to host "race safety seminars, marshal training, newcomers' induction courses and training for the hundreds of volunteers involved in running the motorcycle racing event each year".

In a statement Dundrod and District Motorcycle club said that they applied for the funding to cover "safety equipment, the completion of David Wood House and a new building to facilitate race procedures such as machine scrutineering".

"The improvement of safety around all areas of the race event was a principal factor in the application for funding," said Dundrod and District Motorcycle club," a spokesperson said.

Family and friends attend the funeral of motorcylist Jamie Hodson
Family and friends attend the funeral of motorcylist Jamie Hodson

"Risk assessments are carried out each year and improvements are put in place to enhance track safety.

"The dangers of racing in a closed roads environment remain.

"Further investment is required to maintain safety initiatives, not only in motorcycle road racing but across all motorsports in Northern Ireland."

A spokesman for DUP MLA Paul Givan said it was "sad" that three people had been killed since the investment was made.

"However, lives have also been saved, including a rider at the North West 200," the spokesman said.

"Whilst the number of incidents and injuries prevented as a result of the investment cannot be fully quantified, undoubtedly it has made a positive impact."

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