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Tragic rider Franck Petricola had strong Ulster links

By Paul Lindsay

There was tragedy at the Isle of Man TT last night when French rider Franck Petricola, a man well known to Ulster bike fans, lost his life in a horrific crash.

Petricola, popular in Northern Ireland, was seriously injured at last year’s North West 200 but bravely battled back to compete again. Sadly he was killed in an accident at Sulby Crossroads in last night’s qualifying session.

In a statement issued by ACU Events Ltd, they expressed their regret and promised a thorough investigation.

“ACU Events Ltd regrets to announce that French rider Franck Petricola, 32, from Pont a Mousson was killed following an accident at Sulby Crossroads at approximately 7.45pm during qualifying at the Isle of Man TT races,” the statement read.

“Petricola was a regular competitor in the IRRC Championship and enjoyed his best season in 2013 with 11th overall in the Superbike category.

“His best result, sixth, came at Chimay and he ended the year strongly with six successive top ten finishes and took a brace of thirds in the Lightweight Races at Horice and Terlicko.

“He was due to make his TT debut in 2014 but was injured in the North West 200 meeting earlier in the month and was forced to withdraw from last year’s event.

“He returned to full fitness and raced at Scarborough and the North West 200 where he finished 25th in the Superstock race and 21st in the Superbike Race.

“The ACU wishes to pass on their deepest sympathy to Franck’s family and friends.

“The Coroner of Inquests has been informed and an investigation into the circumstances of the accident is underway,” the statement concluded.

The news of Petricola’s death cast a massive shadow over last night’s qualifying session.

Isle of Man TT lap record holder Bruce Anstey topped both the Superbike and Supersport times on his Padgett Hondas.

But Michael Dunlop’s issues with the all-new R1 Yamaha continued — the 11-time winner uncharacteristically well off the pace throughout last night’s 80-minute extended session.

Dunlop, who has recorded consecutive four-timers at the Isle of Man TT, posted a best lap of 124.519 mph on his factory-backed Milwaukee Yamaha, but tripping the timing beam 35 seconds quicker was 46-year-old Kiwi Anstey.

The nine-time winner’s lap speed was an impressive 128.641mph, with John McGuinness virtually matching Anstey’s lap speed with a time of 128.596mph on his factory Honda.

Third on the Superbike leaderboard was Ian Hutchinson. The Bingley rider also recorded a best lap of 128mph (128.300).

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