Cliffhanger corner kills again

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2014
KEVIN WAUGH
KEVIN WAUGH: 59, of Newlands, died on Sunday during the annual Cliffhanger Hillclimb at Te Wharau Rd.

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A Wellington motorcyclist killed in a popular motorcycle hill race was on the same "fast, dangerous" corner where a motorcyclist died in the race two years ago.

Kevin Barry Waugh, 59, of Newlands, died on Sunday during the annual Cliffhanger Hillclimb at Te Wharau Rd, Gladstone, near Carterton, two years after Tawa man Malcolm Foster, also 59, was killed on the same corner in the same event.

The two men knew each other, according to Greater Wellington Regional Council Wairarapa representative Gary McPhee, who helped put out extra safety cones at the "fast, dangerous" corner as a volunteer.

Police are investigating Sunday's death for the coroner, who is yet to release findings from the 2012 investigation.

Event spokesman Peter Thompson said organisers were assessing whether to continue running the race.

"There's been two [deaths] in a short space of time - we need to look and say why."

Mr Waugh's daughter Elizabeth Waugh said his hobbies included sailing, flying, driving and riding horses as well as bikes - "not bad for an old man with a dodgy ticker".

An IT worker at Datacom in Wellington, he was a kind and just man who supported causes including the White Ribbon Campaign, she said.

Mr Waugh had raced in the Cliffhanger event before and it was "as safe as possible", she said. She did not want to comment on similarities with Mr Foster's death. He had competed in the race many times and was described by the family as "an experienced rider with a lot of racing experience".

Wairarapa traffic sergeant Chris Megaw said Mr Waugh was riding a Triumph Daytona racing motorcycle on his first competitive run over the 6.1km course, which climbs 300 metres through 27 corners up a sealed country road. He was rounding a moderate right-hand bend just before 11am in fine, dry conditions when he left the road and went through a fence, Mr Megaw said. He died instantly from "considerable" injuries.

Organisers were "reeling" from the accident, Mr Thompson said.

Safety measures included controlled sighting runs, a briefing, hay bales, barriers and marshalls with radios along the route. The corner where both riders died was in a fast section about 2km up and had extra safety precautions, which would be reviewed.

Sunday's race, which drew 20 competitors, was cancelled after the crash.

The TSS Red Baron Cliffhanger Hillclimb has been run since 2001.

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A video on the race website shows a competitor reaching nearly 300kmh on the road and finishing the 6.1km in just over two minutes.

- The Dominion Post

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