ACU issues statement following Steve Mercer's head-on collision at 2018 Isle of Man TT

Steve Mercer suffered critical injuries following a head-on collision with an official course car at the Isle of Man TT in 2018.
Steve Mercer suffered critical injuries following a head-on collision with an official course car at the Isle of Man TT in 2018.

The Auto Cycle Union, organisers of the Isle of Man TT, has issued a statement outlining a number changes that will be implemented for 2019 following Steve Mercer’s head-on collision with an official course vehicle last year.

Mercer, from Maidstone in Kent, was critically injured when he was struck by the vehicle after being instructed to return to the Grandstand against the racing direction of the course when a qualifying session was halted on May 30.

Competitors were brought back to the Grandstand against the racing direction of the course in the wake of Manx rider Dan Kneen's fatal crash during a qualifying session on May 30, 2018.

Competitors were brought back to the Grandstand against the racing direction of the course in the wake of Manx rider Dan Kneen's fatal crash during a qualifying session on May 30, 2018.

The course car was making its way to the scene of Manx rider Dan Kneen’s fatal accident when the incident occurred at Ballacrye.

In the wake of the collision, a new red flag procedure was immediately introduced, which means riders will no longer return to the paddock against the racing direction of the course.

Mercer is still undergoing treatment almost a year on from the collision for limb and spinal injuries. He also faces the possibility of losing a leg.

An independent investigation was carried out by the Auto Cycle into the incident, headed by lawyer Rob Jones – a former chief executive of the UK Motor Sports Association.

However, the findings have not been made public and Mercer has also been denied access to the report.

On Thursday, the ACU released a statement outlining changes that will come into effect this year as a result of the findings of the investigation.

It read: “The Auto-Cycle Union wish to announce some important changes which will take place following the Jones Inquiry which was commissioned by the ACU after an unfortunate incident at the TT on 30th May last year.

“Directors of both ACU Ltd and ACU Events Ltd who organise the TT in conjunction with the Isle of Man Government have read, digested the report and take the content very seriously. However, the report is not solely based on circumstances or practices within the IOM TT event.

“A lot of the content relates to the structure, management and operating methods of the ACU, which again, the Directors have implemented changes, but some content is very business sensitive.

“Therefore, it has been decided that this press release will be the final statement provided. But by listing all of the relevant points it is hoped that all questions are answered and we can all look forward to the 2019 event.

“Ahead of listing the salient changes, both ACU Ltd and ACU Events Ltd are pleased that Steve Mercer is making progress and would point out that through our extensive insurance arrangements, assistance is being given with his rehabilitation process.”

The ACU said the recommendations that would be in place for this year’s TT included ‘improved training for all senior race officials’ along with ‘improved and more structured marshal training’.

It also stated that it would place extra emphasis on competitors 'reading and understanding the rules and regulations for the event’ and provide ‘more in depth rider briefings’.

In addition, Tetra radio training will be provided for all officials and GPS Tracking devices will be fitted to all non-race vehicles.

All course cars/course inspection cars and TTMA response cars will have warning lights fitted to the roof and speed limits will be imposed on all course cars.

A ‘more comprehensive Event Safety Plan’ will also be implemented and an Event Safety Officer will be appointed this year.

The ACU also confirmed that ‘structural changes’ had been made to staffing in its Head Office and revealed that Gary Thompson’s ‘sole responsibility within ACU Events Ltd’ is as Clerk of the Course at the TT.