A top North West 200 motorcyclist remains in a critical condition in intensive care in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast following a crash in the Superstock race on Saturday.
Simon Andrews, 29, suffered serious injuries when he came off his bike on the approach to Metropole corner in Portrush on the fourth lap.
His bike burst into flames.
The Worcestershire man was riding at the North West for the Penz13.com BMW team.
Immediately after the crash he was treated at the scene by the race medical team before being airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital – and the race was immediately stopped.
This was the second serious crash at the North West 200 this year after French rider Franck Petricola suffered serious injuries when he crashed during a practice race at Primrose corner on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old was last night said to also be in a “critical condition” in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Last night a spokesman for the NW200 said: “Simon Andrews’ family are with him at his bedside in the intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Simon’s condition remains critical.”
He added that everyone associated with the NW200 hoped those involved in the accidents – on Tuesday and Saturday – “will make a full recovery”.
Simon Andrews had raced at the North West 200 before and Franck Petricola was a newcomer to the event.
Yesterday organiser of the event Mervyn White was unavailable for comment as he was visiting the motorcyclists at the Belfast hospital.
The NW200 spokesman said there was a “massive crowd and huge support for race week”.
“The stands were full, irrespective of the weather,” he said.
“Last year it was rained off with monsoon-like conditions, but regardless of those difficulties people turned out to support the event with bigger numbers than ever this year.
“Although in terms of how many people attended, I don’t think anyone actually knows that. It would be impossible to measure but I do know all the grandstands were packed. It was great to see that.”
He said the NW200 had “fantastic racing which was hotly contested and really dramatic”.
“There was a great atmosphere and great racing throughout race week,” he added.
“The weather only really broke on Saturday, race day, when there were mixed conditions.”
He added that First Minister Peter Robinson attended the event on Saturday “and was talking about how great it was to see large crowds in the area”.
“And on Thursday we had the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, who had a long chat with Guy Martin [motorbike racer].”
NW200 cited as world-class
The official website of the Vauxhall International 2014 North West 200 cites it as “one of the world’s top motorcycle road races” where “the highest calibre of riders and race teams take part”.
“Previous competitors include John McGuinness, Michael Rutter, Jeremy McWilliams, Bruce Anstey, Cameron Donald, Guy Martin, Michael and William Dunlop, Stuart Easton and Conor Cummins,” says the site.
In the ‘Reasons to visit the NW200’ the site also points to the fact “riders reach over 200mph on this famous nine-mile road circuit” on the stunning Causeway Coast.
It adds: “Spectators can enjoy numerous vantage points around the circuit or take advantage of the large screen viewing areas, grandstand seating or VIP hospitality packages on offer.”