Belfast Telegraph

North West 200 rider Malachi Mitchell-Thomas will be honoured and the race goes on, vows race chief

By Jim Gracey

Tragic North West 200 crash victim Malachi Mitchell-Thomas will be posthumously honoured by the race that claimed his young life.

And race chief Mervyn Whyte has vowed that the crowd-pulling event will go on, in accordance with the wishes of 20-year-old rising star Malachi’s grieving father Kevin, who spoke out yesterday in support of the race continuing and in praise of the organisers, in particular their medical teams who fought in vain to save his son’s life after a 110mph crash in Saturday’s Supertwins race, just outside Portrush.

Anguished Whyte rushed to the scene and held hands with the stricken rider before he slipped out of consciousness, eventually losing his fight for life as medical teams fought for 40 minutes to save him.

Whyte is now steeled for the inevitable one-day onslaught from opponents of the sport and event but insisted his primary focus would remain on supporting the bereaved family as he revealed new young race pin-up Malachi had been leading the race for the Man of the Meeting award when his fatal accident led to the event being abandoned.

“The Man of the Meeting is decided on a points system,” Mervyn explained. “It rewards consistency over all the races at the North West as opposed to individual wins. When the meeting was stopped, Malachi was our leader on points for his performances overall. We will now look to present the trophy to his family, through his father Kevin, who supported him here, with heartfelt sympathies to them all.”

Kevin Thomas made an emotional call yesterday for the event to continue and Whyte assured him and many thousands of race fans (80,000 were in attendance on Saturday): “The North West will go on as long as we have the support of riders, their teams and families, fans in their thousands, the entire road racing fraternity, in fact.

“The event will continue as will our emphasis on safety which is constantly under review and being improved all the time. We have 500 safety bales, pole and kerb protectors, cameras, an army of marshals, on the spot medical teams and air evacuation by helicopter. But it is a high speed sport and it is impossible to legislate for every eventuality.

“What would help, and I am sure people are tired of hearing this, but it is a fact we need more funding from Government. The event barely covers its costs yet it brings in vast revenues that benefit the regional economy in general and the north coast in particular.

“If people have safety concerns at heart, they should join us in pressing Government here to give us more financial support, rather than just paying lip service.”

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