Belfast Telegraph

Tragic ending to Isle of Man TT as two more riders lose their lives

By Paul Lindsay

A fantastic fortnight at this year's Isle of Man TT Festival, which saw lap records smashed and amazing on-track action finished under a dark cloud on the final day last Friday, when two experienced competitors sadly lost their lives - bringing the total number of fatalities at this TT to four.

Fifty-eight-year-old Ian Bell, an experienced sidecar competitor and former winner at the TT in 2003, lost his life after an incident at the Ballaspur section of the TT circuit during Friday's sidecar race.

The motorcycle dealer from Northumberland, who made his TT debut in 1995, was competing with his son Carl, who managed to escape from the crash uninjured.

The second fatality happened in the Blue Riband Senior TT, which brought the curtain down on this year's event.

Thirty-two-year-old Leicestershire rider Andrew Soar was also an experienced mountain course competitor, having won the Senior Manx Grand Prix in 2014.

The Loughborough rider crashed at Keppel Gate during the Senior TT race, an incident that cost him his life.

This year's TT got off to a gut-wrenching start when popular racer and sponsor Paul Shoesmith lost his life following a practice lap incident, on the Sulby Straight on Saturday, June 4.

Owner of the Ice Valley Four Anjels Racing team, Shoesmith was well known for his Evel Knievel-style white leathers and outgoing personality.

He made his Isle of Man TT debut in 2005 and ironically set his personal best lap of 125.896mph in the TT Superbike race - just a short time before the practice lap incident that would cost him his life.

Known for his fundraising efforts, most notably the Simon Andrews Foundation, Shoesmith was posthumously awarded the Spirit of the TT accolade. The Stockport racer's partner, and mother to two of his children, Janet Cowden, collected the award on his behalf.

Later the same day in the opening Sidecar race of TT 2016, 27-year-old Australian native Dwight Beare lost his life, following an incident at the Rhencullen section of the TT circuit.

Originally from Melbourne, Beare had set up home on the Isle of Man and made his TT debut in 2014.

His passenger Benjamin Binns suffered a fractured ankle in the incident.

Five of this year's solo class victories went the way of Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson. Dunlop took the coveted Superbike and Senior TT wins and Hutchinson a brace of Supersport victories backed up by a TT Superstock top step.

Unfortunately a bitter war of words ensued in Friday's Senior TT press conference between the pair after Hutchinson claimed that Dunlop's MD Racing team had openly accusing his team of cheating.

The alleged suggestions were that Hutchinson's Came Yamaha team had fitted over-sized pistons to aid performance in the second Monster Energy Supersport race, which second place man Dunlop - disqualified for an illegal engine in Supersport race one - said was brought to their attention by a scrutineer.

The result stood, but fans of both riders then got embroiled in a widespread social media battle, which was thankfully put to bed on Saturday morning, when ACU Events - promoters of the TT - fully explained the situation.

An abbreviated version of their statement read: "A question was raised during the post race inspection regarding the size of the pistons of one of the machines in the top three and the pistons were found to comply with TT regulations.

"This technical inspection was carried out on all of the top three finishers in TT Supersport Race 2 on Wednesday 8th June and no discrepancies were identified in any of the motorcycles checked."

Despite Dunlop setting a new outright lap record just under 134mph, sadly this TT could possibly be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Belfast Telegraph


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