A MOTORCYCLIST who crashed while competing in the North West 200 road race in Northern Ireland has died, the event organisers have announced.
Simon Andrews, 29, from Evesham,, crashed in the north coast event's Superstock race on Saturday.
The death is the latest to rock a controversial sport that has been no stranger to fatal crashes in recent years. French competitor Franck Petricola, also 29, sustained critical injuries in a crash during a North West practice session last Tuesday.
A statement from the North West 200 said the rider, who was airlifted from the course, died in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital today with his parents Stuart and Dee and girlfriend Lisa among those at his bedside.
His father paid tribute to the Penz13.com BMW team rider.
"Simon loved road racing and he loved competing at the North West 200,"
"He has had a motorbike since he was four years old and started racing when he was 16. From that first race Simon progressed to riding for the factory Honda TT Legends team and his Mum and I are very proud of his racing achievements.
"Road racing was in his blood and Simon preferred the roads to short circuits. He was fully aware of the dangers involved but he loved the challenge that that offered. Simon always said 'Once you've been on the roads there's nothing else to compare with it'.
"Simon made his road racing debut at the North West 200 in 2011. He loved the racing, the relaxed atmosphere and the fans he met there.
Simon always said that the North West fans were the most knowledgeable in the world as they knew everything about the sport and the bikes.
"Ireland had a special place in his heart as he scored his first ever championship point in a meeting at Mondello Park (Co Kildare).
"Simon loved children and I always remember how he would kneel down to be at the same height as the kids who asked him for his autograph or picture.
"Throughout his career Simon has always been involved with various charities and that is why we have made a donation of his organs today.
Simon always wanted that to happen."
North West 200 event director Mervyn Whyte said: "This is a very sad day and I want to offer my condolences to Simon's family and friends and to his race team.
"Simon was a superb rider and a great character in the paddock. He was a huge asset to our race. It was an absolute pleasure to work with him and he was always very helpful when we asked for his assistance. He will be sadly missed by everyone at the North West 200."