Widow seeks tougher race crash penalties
The wife of a motorcyclist who died at Manfeild wants to see harsher penalties for race-day rule breakers and tougher requirements for people seeking racing licences.
Mark Brehaut, of Lower Hutt, died in a collision with fellow rider Brenton Nelson at the Feilding track on May 5 last year. Mr Nelson had bike trouble and lost thrust going into the last main corner of a six-lap race.
He coasted over the finish line before he and Mr Brehaut collided. At the time, Mr Nelson veered slightly left as he checked over his shoulder to see if it was safe to pull to the side.
Speaking after an inquest in Palmerston North yesterday into Mr Brehaut's death, his widow, Janice, said she thought the crash was an accident. But there had been other crashes and deaths in motorcycle racing to consider.
"It's not just about Mark, it's about other guys as well. His loss of life has to be for some gain somewhere else.
"If you can learn something that's going to save someone else's husband, that's exactly what the purpose of the inquest is."
Race rules at the moment say riders with disabled bikes must get off the track as fast as they can, but should hold their line until it is safe to make a move.
Mrs Brehaut said tougher licensing measures should be introduced as well as mandatory penalties for those who breached safety standards, such as when riders stayed on the track below race speed.
She was encouraged to hear Motorcycling New Zealand president Jim Tuckerman tell the inquest that riders were now quizzed about safety standards before race licences were granted.
He gave examples of riders facing bans for failing to get off the track when they had mechanical faults and were travelling too slowly, while those who ran out of fuel during a race would be fined.
During the May 5 race, part of a meeting held by the Wellington- based Victoria Motorcycle Club, yellow flags were out to alert riders to Mr Nelson's loss of power.
Senior Constable Christopher Pelosi, of the serious crash unit, said Mr Nelson was low on fuel, a common practice among riders to keep bike weights down.
He ran out as he turned into the final straight and coasted to the finish line.
Mr Brehaut was travelling up to 150kmh, while Mr Nelson was going 50kmh or slower when they crashed, Mr Pelosi said.
Mr Nelson said he was not out of fuel and his bike suffered a mechanical fault.
At times, he said, he raised his hand in the air so riders knew he was going slowly. He turned around, saw a bike in the distance and thought it was safe to pull over. Next thing, he was hit by Mr Brehaut.
"The only thing I can think of is he didn't think I was coming almost to a stop," Mr Nelson said. "There's nothing he could have done to get out of my way and I was doing my best to clear off the track . . .
"I'm an experienced motorbike rider and did everything to keep myself and other riders safe."
Coroner Carla na Nagara reserved her decision. Fairfax NZ
- © Fairfax NZ News
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