Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Irwin win overshadowed by fatal accident


By Roy Harris

Glenn Irwin may have been declared the winner of Saturday's 51st motorcycle Macau Grand Prix, but his maiden Far East win was completely overshadowed by death of 31-year old Nottingham rider Dan Hegarty following an horrific accident on the sixth lap of the race.

The Top Gun Honda rider was on his second visit to the former Portuguese Colony when he was flung from his machine in a high-speed crash at Fisherman's Bend, flying into trackside barriers and losing his helmet in the incident.

The race was immediately red-flagged, but unfortunately Hegarty succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital. The proprietor of RTR Motorcycles, in Bingham just outside Nottingham, the talented Hegarty had carved out a highly successful career to establish himself as one of road racings leading privateer competitors.

He was also well-known and respected in Northern Ireland having competed in both the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix while during the 2016 Isle of Man TT he won the Privateers Championship.

Unfortunately for a totally devastated Top Gun Team this has been their second loss this season following the death of Gavin Lupton following a crash during the Ulster Grand Prix meeting at Dundrod some three months ago.

Condolences are sent to Dan's partner Lucy, two boys and to the wider family connections.

Irwin, after a sombre podium in which no laurels or champagne were presented, said: "The result is irrelevant. This was not a celebration, it was just three riders standing on a box - there will never be a podium for this race.

"All our thoughts are with Dan's team and family at this very sad time.

"During the race I had a non-mechanical or technical issue early on that nearly caused me to retire, but I adjusted my style and it worked OK. It's a very sad end to what has been a successful week."

The last Ulster winner of the Macau Grand Prix was Phillip McCallen over two decades ago when he rode a 500cc Yamaha YZR to victory in 1996.

Peter Hickman, the winner of the race for the last two years and his Bathams SMT BMW team-mate Michael Rutter were declared second and third with the UGP triple winner 1.312secs behind Irwin while Rutter was over seven seconds back in third.

Lee Johnston was credited with eighth on the RST BMW HP4, similarly mounted Michael Sweeney was 17th and Davy Morgan 23rd.

Hickman commented: "We were on for a strong race, but it all paled into insignificance after what happened to Dan."

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