Tributes from across the motorbiking world are pouring in after the death of talented Chorley rider Malachi Mitchell-Thomas.
The 20-year-old was killed when he crashed his Burrows Engineering Kawasaki during the third lap of the Supertwins race at the Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush, Northern Ireland on Saturday. No other competitor was involved.
Mr Mitchell-Thomas had been touted in Irish papers last week as “road racing’s bright new star” and was being compared to biking star Guy Martin.
Blackburn’s former Superbike World Champion Carl Foggarty tweeted: “So sad to lose a young star of the future.. Malachi Mitchell Thomas. #Rip Thoughts with family and friends.”
Irish professional motorcycle road racer Eugene Laverty wrote: “Really sad news about Malachi Mitchell-Thomas. I’d just been saying how great a character he was and a real asset to road racing.”
When the crash happened, the street race was immediately red-flagged and Mr Mitchell-Thomas was treated by medical staff from the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (MCUI) medical team.
However, he died from his injuries at the scene.
Race organisers said the event, which is held every May in Northern Ireland, was subsequently abandoned.
A statement on their website said: “The organisers of the event, the Coleraine and District Motor Club, would like to offer their heartfelt condolences to Malachi’s family and team.”
Mr Mitchell-Thomas’s dad, Kevin Thomas, introduced him to motocross when he was just four and he was riding in Supermoto at 13 and had success at European level at 16.
This morning on Facebook he posted: “My best mates gone”.
Mr Mitchell-Thomas said he was first taken by the road racing bug on his first visit to the Isle of Man, where he won a Senior Manx GP last year at 19, setting a new lap record.
On his first taste of Ulster road racing he posted three wins at the Mid Antrim 150, one at Cookstown, and on Thursday night he came home a creditable 11th in the Supersport race.
The Vauxhall International North West 200 in Portrush is watched online by around two million people and has become Ireland’s largest sporting event and one of the world’s fastest road races.