John Burrows says tragic star Malachi Mitchell-Thomas will be in everyone’s thoughts when the Cookstown B.E. Racing team returns to next month’s Vauxhall International North West 200.
The 20-year-old from Chorley in Lancashire was killed in a crash during the main Supertwin race last year at the same part of the Triangle course where Ryan Farquhar sustained life-threatening injuries two days earlier.
The rest of the meeting was called off by Event Director Mervyn Whyte, casting a dark cloud over the first major international road race of the season.
Burrows admits it will be tough to return to the scene of the tragedy, but he also hopes Mitchell-Thomas will be remembered for the sensational impact he made in such a short space of time, culminating in a stunning fourth place in the Supersport race shortly before the talented newcomer lost his life.
“The main priority for me is to get there and have a safe event, not only for my own team, but for everyone,” team boss Burrows told the News Letter.
“It’s a situation where I’ll be advising my own rider and others to just take that little bit of extra care at that particular point of the course [at right-hander after Dhu Varren railway bridge], because it has caught out a few top guys for no apparent reason.
“Unfortunately everyone will remember that Mal was killed at the North West, but we shouldn’t forget what he achieved. He certainly left his mark with that fourth place in Saturday’s Supersport race and that was even after he started from something like 16th place,” added Burrows.
“He finished the race only 12 seconds behind [race winner] Alastair Seeley and when you think how much time he would have lost on the first lap at York Corner, with all the traffic, it shows how much ground he made up. He was fighting with Peter Hickman and narrowly missed out on a podium.”
Dublin rider Derek Sheils will again ride for Burrows’ team in 2017 and has a top-class stable of bikes including a Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike, Kawasaki Supertwin and a CBR600RR Honda.
The North West 200 will take place from May 9-13.