Wiring fault caused fatal crash that claimed life of experienced road racer James Cowton
An inquest has heard that Yorkshire rider James Cowton died after a broken connection between two wires linked to the kill switch on his 600cc Kawasaki caused the crash that claimed his life at last year’s Southern 100 races.
However, no blame was attributed as a result of the cause of the accident, which occurred in the 600cc Challenge race at Stadium Bends on July 12, 2018.
The 26-year-old, who was competing for Northern Ireland’s McAdoo Racing team, came off when the fault meant his Kawasaki machine lost power as he headed into the corner. He collided with a wall and sustained multiple injuries after he was then thrown to the other side of the road.
Mr Cowton had been lying in second place in the race and three other competitors, who were close behind, were caught up in the accident, including Ivan Lintin, Jamie Coward and Michael Evans.
Sadly, Mr Cowton was pronounced dead at 5.20pm at the Billown circuit near Castletown on the Isle of Man.
The issue with his Kawasaki machine came to light when television footage, including an onboard camera, revealed the engine cut out. Although no mechanical problems were discovered, vehicle examiner Anthony Bode found a loose multi plug behind the instrument cluster, which connects the kill switch.
Additional testing suggested that a clip that secures the two halves of the plug together had not been locked in place, causing the connection to come apart. Mr Bode said it was his belief that the issue may have existed undetected for some time as this part of the machine is not regularly checked by scrutineers or during regular servicing.
A statement provided by Kawasaki UK said the manufacturer had never been aware of such an issue before, although the connectors had been modified for racing at some point.
At Douglas courthouse on Wednesday, Coroner Jayne Hughes recorded a verdict of accidental death and said no blame could be apportioned for the accident as the part of the machine containing the connection was not an area that was examined regularly. Mrs Hughes said there was no malicious intent or lack of care and that the machine was well-prepared and in good mechanical order prior to the race.