A 14-year-old motocross rider killed in a race has won the competition posthumously.
Trent Haywood from Tauranga died about 11am yesterday after launching off a 30-metre jump at the Godfrey Memorial Motocross event at a farm in Waipara, North Canterbury.
He had been coming second in the race, and was first overall in the Junior 14-16 125/250cc event going into it.
The event was cancelled after the accident, leaving the popular teen with the title.
Motorcycling New Zealand president Jim Tuckerman said Trent's family accepted the award on his behalf at yesterday's prize-giving.
The prize money from the races that were not run due to the event's cancellation would also be donated to the family.
An eyewitness at the event who had also competed said Trent "took off badly" and landed awkwardly before "bouncing down the hill".
"Everyone knew straight away it was really serious."
FRIENDS PAY TRIBUTE
Well-wishers were today using the hashtag #323, Trent's bike number, and posting photos and messages on a Facebook tribute page set up by Trent's girlfriend Georgia Edwards and other friends.
Georgia is a fellow motocross rider.
Facebook user Nicole Hannon said it "hasn't quite sunken in yet that you're really gone."
She said her younger brother would miss the help Trent provided for him at training.
Sarah Elwin wrote: "I'm so honoured to have been able get to know you & your cheeky ways Trent, one of the most genuine guys I ever met, heaven has gained an amazing angel."
"You were an inspiration Trent," another post said.
"You trained harder and had more determination than any of the other riders. You never gave up."
The page has attracted empathy from a father in Spain, who had lost his motorcross riding 15-year-old son.
"I hope Trent and Adrián are now joining with his motorcicles in the Heaven. My heart is with Trent's family now," Javier Aparicio Ruiz wrote.
The page had more than 4000 likes by midday.
Trent had led his school to victory at the MotoX in the Maize motocross competition, taking out the top Competitive 250cc title about six weeks ago.
Tauranga's Otumoetai College Motocross Team said yesterday the Tauranga boys team was meeting "to get a support plan for the family together"
Shelley Dean, who runs his local park in Tauranga, said Trent had been riding since he was five-years-old and was part of the Suzuki development team.
"He was totally passionate about the sport."
Initial police inquiries showed Trent was competing in a race when he appeared to lose control of his motorcycle, for reasons not yet known. He crashed down a steep incline, suffering serious head injuries.
Trent's father and friends were at the event.
SPECTATORS HORRIFIED BY CRASH
Sergeant Rob Irvine said the death was believed to be the first fatality in the event's 35-year history.
Weather conditions were fine and the track was largely dry, he said. However, the witness said the jump was known to be dangerous.
Racers hit the jump at up to 90kmh. "He just hit it wrong and went over the front of the bike and cartwheeled down the hill."
The stunned audience walked around "like zombies" after the crash, the witness said.
Trent had been coming second in the race and was first equal overall for his event going into it.
The motocross event was cancelled after the incident.
Motorcycling New Zealand said it extended its deepest regrets to Trent's family and that it was committed to the "highest levels of safety" in the sport.
President Jim Tuckerman said that before racing, all riders were briefed that if they had a concern with the track they should tell the race organisers.
The crash was subject to an investigation which would take witness statements and examine the bike.
"It appears to be a racing incident and unfortunately they do happen . . . motocross is a dangerous sport."
The Westpac rescue helicopter was also required to attend the event on Saturday after two 19-year-old racers suffered spinal and hand injuries respectively.
- The Press