There is a material level of risk inherent in motorcycle racing. MNZ, its officials and all associated parties do everything possible to manage and mitigate the risks but sadly accidents do occur and, on rare occasions, they may be fatal.
Fatalities are referred by the police to the coroner, who establishes the facts surrounding the accident, including when, where, why and how it happened, and whether anything can be done differently to prevent something similar happening again. Out of respect to members and their families, extracts and key findings from recent reports are available below, but full coronial reports are not published unless directed by the coroner.
Guy Lowe, Greymouth Street Race, 23 October 2016
Sadly Guy Lowe passed away en-route to hospital following an accident at the Greymouth Street Race on 23 October 2016. A coronial investigation was held and the final findings delivered on 3 December 2019.
Extracts from the report:
- Mr Lowe was racing on his Ducatti motorcycle in the Greymouth Motorcycle Street Race on 23 October 2016, a race in which he had competed three times previously.
- During the race, a rider fell off his motorcycle. Mr Lowe was unable to avoid the fallen motorcycle, collided with it, lost control of his own motorcycle and was thrown from it. He suffered fatal injuries.
- The relevant roads were clean and in good condition and did not contribute to the crash.
- Both riders held the appropriate race licences for the event.
- Both the fallen KTM and Mr Lowe’s motorcycle passed race scrutiny involving a structural and mechanical examination to ensure they were fit to race and compliant with MNZ regulations.
- The yellow flag was being flown correctly and was visible, but it was not conspicuous. With the “background clutter” of other bright colours, it could be missed when only in view for a short time.
- The recommendation was made that MNZ consider issuing instructions to race organisers regarding the conspicuity of flags, particularly at street race events, to ensure any flags presented are not lost in background clutter, that flag marshal positions are separated from bystanders to ensure clarity, and that marshals displaying warning flags wear reflective jackets of a significantly different colour from those of the flags used.
Craig Hyde, CAMS Road Race, 8 October 2012
Sadly Craig Hyde passed away at a CAMS Road Race held 8 December 2012. Subsequent to this, a coroner’s hearing was held at the end of April with the final finding received in August.
The entire report is not published here due to its sensitive nature, however the coroner has requested that we draw the circumstances of the death to our members. Below are key extracts from the coroner’s report.
- There was no evidence that the loss of control of the Suzuki by Craig Hyde was anything other than a racing error and no responsibility for this misjudgement can be attributed. Craig Hyde was physically fit, experienced and correctly licenced motorcyclist. In all respects it was appropriate for him to have been participating in the motorcycle race on that day. Craig Hyde knew the risks associated with his chosen hobby and accepted those risks knowing the possible consequences.
- There is no evidence that track or weather conditions caused the loss of control. The track and/or tyre temperature may have been causative or contributory factors but these are similarly risks which are assumed by those participating.
- Criticisms have been made of the management by CAMS of the event, the coroner accepted some of those criticisms and noted an acceptance by those involved to the effect that management, particularly of the post-crash reactions, could have been better. However, the coroner was unable to link any such management shortcoming to the circumstances which resulted in the death of Craig Hyde.
- There was not evidence that there were any failures by St John Ambulance in either the time it took for their attendance at the crash scene or in the quality of the care provided by St John Ambulance officers. It is clear from the autopsy report that the injuries received by Craig Hyde in the crash were, in the prevailing circumstances, non-survivable.
Also of note was that it is always appropriate for bona fide concerns, in relation to the control and management of events which result in serious or fatal consequences, to be drawn to the attention of a coroner. There ought to be no criticism of any individual acting as a ‘whistle blower’ until the concerns expressed have been the subject of independent scrutiny. It is only by an appropriate review of the circumstances of a death that steps can be taken to avoid a repetition.