Northern Ireland race team's devastation at death of rider in Manx crash
The team at Cookstown-based McAdoo Kawasaki Racing have been left "numb" following Thursday's death of road racer James Cowton.
The Yorkshireman (26), in his second season racing for the Northern Ireland outfit, died following a four-bike accident while competing at the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man.
His death followed last weekend's loss of William Dunlop in practice at the Skerries 100 event, with Adam Lyon and Dan Kneen killed competing in the Isle of Man TT earlier in the summer during what has been a difficult few weeks for the sport.
Kenny Loughrin of Cookstown and Distrct Motorcycle Club, who is a close friend of team boss Winston McAdoo, said: "This week has been unbelievable.
"I have spoken to Winston McAdoo, and to be honest he simply can't get words out. The sport and the riders mean so much to him. He's inconsolable.
"We had a very sad occasion on Wednesday with the funeral of William Dunlop, and to hear this news just a couple of days later is devastating.
"James was a very talented rider and I know Winston had high hopes for him. He was just 26 and improving all the time.
"Everyone connected with the Cookstown club and with the McAdoo team is numb this week with what's happened. It's heartbreaking. When you hear news like this it hits everyone connected with the sport for six.
"But as Ryan Farquhar said earlier this week, road racing is more than a sport, it's a way of life. The riders still want to race. We saw that after William Dunlop died last weekend - the race went on because that's what the riders and everyone associated with the sport wanted.
"On behalf of the Cookstown club, given James's close association with the town, Northern Ireland and McAdoo Racing in his career, we all pass on our sympathies to his family.
"Our thoughts and best wishes also go to the other three riders injured in the accident."
Mr Cowton, from Driffield, was enjoying his second full season with the McAdoo team and had won his maiden International Road Race at this year's North West 200. He had also won three races at the Southern 100 in previous years, with victory at the 2018's Supersport race at the Cookstown 100 marking another career highlight.
He came off his McAdoo Racing Kawasaki in an accident at Stadium Bends on the Isle of Man circuit on Thursday and succumbed to his injuries.
Lincolnshire racer Ivan Lintin, a two-time Isle of Man TT winner and another regular around roads here, remains in a critical condition in a Liverpool hospital after being flown there after the accident.
Two other riders -Jamie Coward and Mickey Evans - were also involved in the crash and suffered injuries.
A number of tributes were paid to Mr Cowton, who was popular in the paddock with fellow riders.
John McGuinness, a 23-time TT winner, tweeted: "I really couldn't find the right words to say when we lost William then more terrible news about young James today.
"I was there today watching the boys do what they do, loving every second. 2 super talented lads RIP fingers crossed for Ivan. We look so selfish at times, we just can't help it, my thoughts and prayers are with family and friends tonight."
Ian Hutchinson, a 16-time winner at the TT, said: "Very, very sad year for road racing. Been to watch today then to get this news again, it's a tough sport to be involved in at these times, really thinking of everyone involved."
Southern 100 Racing also extended its sincere condolences.