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Superbike racer Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne sues Motorsport Vision Racing Ltd, Motorsport Vision Ltd and The Motorcycle Circuit Racing Control Board Ltd for £1 million after crash at Snetterton





Britain's greatest ever superbike racer is suing for more than £1 million in compensation following a career-ending crash at Snetterton.

Six-time champion Shane Byrne, from Sittingbourne in Kent, sustained devastating spinal injuries when he lost control of his bike on a corner and ploughed into the "vast, dense blackness" of a circuit tyre wall at the track in May 2018.

The 47-year-old was on a test run of the circuit - for which he holds the track record - riding a Ducati superbike when he slammed into the corner barrier.

Shane Byrne at the 2018 Bennetts British SuperBike Championship. Picture: Be Wiser Ducatii
Shane Byrne at the 2018 Bennetts British SuperBike Championship. Picture: Be Wiser Ducatii

In his sporting "prime" at the time, his career was ended and he is now claiming seven-figure damages before Judge Bruce Blair KC.

Mr Byrne is suing British Superbike Championship organiser Motorsport Vision Racing Ltd, track owner Motorsport Vision Ltd, and the sports's governing body, The Motorcycle Circuit Racing Control Board Ltd.

He says better protective measures should have been in place to minimise the risk of injury to riders who veered off the track at the 200mph circuit.

Six-time motorcycle champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne spoke about his crash in his autobiography, Unshakeable
Six-time motorcycle champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne spoke about his crash in his autobiography, Unshakeable

But all three bodies deny being at fault for the accident, blaming Mr Byrne for not taking enough care for his safety. They also say the accident was not "reasonably foreseeable".

Opening the case at London's High Court, Mr Byrne's barrister Kiril Waite described the racer as a "remarkable man" with unparalleled success in the sport.

Despite only coming to superbike racing close to his 30th birthday, he went on to become the country’s most decorated rider.

He won the British Superbike Championship six times, more than any other, and holds the track record at Snetterton.

Shane Byrne after his surgery following the crash. Picture: Simon Hildrew
Shane Byrne after his surgery following the crash. Picture: Simon Hildrew

His accident occurred during a "test" run there, where he reached a speed of 120mph on the straight, Mr Waite told the court.

"On his approach, he reduced speed and it was at that stage that he lost control of the bike.

"The bike left the track at a speed of about 60mph with Mr Byrne on it. He travelled a distance of 55 to 60 metres before impact with the barrier.

"He dismounted shortly before impact with the barrier."

Mr Waite said Mr Byrne - who hit the barrier at a slower speed than his bike - had written a book, in which he described his memories of the accident.

"Usually there would be air fencing on a corner like that... but all I could see was the vast, dense blackness of the tyre wall," Mr Byrne wrote.

"Those couple of seconds felt like minutes."

Mr Waite argued the problem with the corner was the failure to install additional protective barriers - such as air fencing - in front of the tyre wall.

Had better protective measures been put in place, it would have made a "material difference" to the outcome for Mr Byrne, he argued.

"The defendants say Mr Byrne failed to control his bike and that Mr Byrne is the cause of his own misfortune," he continued.

But he said Mr Byrne is a man who "knows his onions" when it comes to bike racing and that he knows the "capabilities and limits" of his bike.

He highlighted a video showing Mr Byrne riding and added: "There are not many people who can handle a bike like Mr Byrne and the footage demonstrates that very clearly."

He had approached the accident corner on the same line as he had done on the previous lap, in which there was no accident, he continued.

"Therefore, the speed and position cannot be criticised as being at fault for what happened," he told the judge.

He said the loss of control of a bike on a circuit where riders hit up to 200mph is one of the "inherent risks" of the sport.

Due to that, the race and sport organisers and track owners should have made sure additional "protective devices" were in place.

But representing the three defendants, barrister Malcolm Duthie claimed it was Mr Byrne's lack of care for his safety that caused the accident.

He said they also "refute entirely" any suggestion that collisions with air fencing result in riders walking away with "only a few bruises."

He said collisions with air fencing can be "unpredictable" and that some of Mr Byrne's injuries might still have happened even if he had not hit the tyre wall.

Injuries other than his spinal injuries might easily have been sustained just from falling from the bike, having lost control as he did, he argued.

The hearing continues.



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