Alan Bonner 'was more like a brother than a team rider'
The North West Racing Team on Thursday paid tribute to Alan 'Bono' Bonner, the Co Meath rider who was one of three riders to die on Black Wednesday at the Isle of Man TT.
Bonner was a 33-year old from the village of Stanmullen and highly rated among his fellow racers as a talented rider, as well as being someone who was "great craic" away from the track.
He tragically lost his life, despite every effort by emergency personnel to save him, in an incident at the 33rd Milestone during a qualifying lap for Supersport and Superbike machines when he came off his BMW machine.
The session was immediately brought to a halt by red flags and the rest of the day's events on the 37-mile circuit were cancelled.
A statement from his NW Racing Team said they were "deeply shocked and saddened that their rider had lost his life while taking part in qualifying for the Senior TT".
Noel Williamson, the owner of NW Racing, commented: "On behalf of the team I wish to offer our sincere condolences to his partner Gemma and the Bonner family.
"In the short time Alan has been racing with the team we have had great craic, pure and simple.
"He was a special guy to work with and he was more like a brother than a team rider."
Bonner came to tarmac racing from a motocross background in 2007, making his debut in the Clubman series of races.
He decided to go road racing in 2010 and won the Irish 750cc Senior Support championship, taking a win during the Cookstown 100 backed up by top three finishes at the Mid Antrim 150, Walderstown, Armoy and Dunmanway, Co. Cork riding a 600cc Yamaha.
In 2012, during the Dundrod 150 Challenge race, he finished a respectable eighth and then lapped the ultra-fast circuit at over 124mph in the UGP Superstock event.
He made his TT debut in 2014 riding the 'Peoples Bike' Fireblade Honda and the following year became the fastest ever Southern rider around the Mountain Circuit with a speed of 127.090mph and a personal best finish of 15th in the Senior TT.
A double Superbike victory at Kells Road Races topped a terrific season before moving to the Devitt RS Express Kawasaki team in 2016 as team mate to Ivan Lintin, but a spate of non-finishes meant a difficult year with his best results coming at Scarborough, Southern 100 and Skerries.
Joining the NW Racing Team for this season, the TT was the major goal, and prior to his fatal accident Alan had earned Bronze Replicas for finishing 29th during Sunday's Superbike race and 30th in Wednesday morning's Superstock race around the Manx circuit - a sad, sad loss to his partner, family circle and friends.
During the Superstock race 28-year old Dutch competitor Jochem van den Hoek lost his life following an accident at the 11th Milestone on the first lap of that race.
The third competitor to lose his life on Wednesday was 48-year old Davey Lambert from Gateshead, who died in Aintree Hospital, Liverpool, the result of injuries sustained during the Superbike race on Sunday after crashing at Greeba Castle.
The weather has thwarted both practice and racing this TT fortnight and it was announced that this year's second Supersport race - due to take place on Thursday but cancelled due to yet more poor weather - will not take place.