Isle of Man TT: 'We all know the risks', says racer after five deaths lead to calls for ban

·3-min read

Five people have been killed while racing at this year's Isle of Man TT event - but one rider has told Sky News that everyone participating in the race knows the risks.

Michael Russell, a rider who spends his working life with the Royal Air Force, said there had been "tragic accidents", adding: "Everyone enters the races with the knowledge of this happening... it's a risk that we all take."

The deaths follow a two-year break in the race around the mountain course, and take the total number of motorcycle and sidecar fatalities on the course to 265 since 1911.

The only year following the Second World War in which the races took place and no fatalities occurred was 1982.

The latest riders to die were a father and son team competing in a sidecar race.

Roger Stockton, 56, was driving and his 21-year-old son Bradley was in the passenger seat during an incident at Ago's Leap on the final lap of the second sidecar race.

It was Roger's 20th race in his 11th TT (Tourist Trophy) appearance. Bradley was competing in his second race in his maiden TT.

What is the TT?

The annual TT event is spread over six qualifying days and five days of racing. Each lap is almost 38 miles with more than 200 bends and climbs from sea level to more than 400 metres.

The average speed of the first winner in 1907 was 38 miles an hour. The current record is 135 miles an hour.

The total number of deaths this year is second only to 1970 when six people were killed.

It has led to calls for the world famous event to be banned, but a 2018 report from the Isle of Man government said the benefit to the island of the TT and Festival of Motorcycling is £31.7m.

They attract 61,000 visitors who spend £44m - almost 40% of total visitor spending on the island.

'We all know the risks when we take this challenge on'

Mr Russell told Sky News he met the Stocktons this year because it was his first year competing in the three-wheel sidecar challenge, describing them as "fantastic people".

They were "part of the three wheeling family that is the sidecar fraternity, and they will be sorely missed," he added.

Mr Russell said for himself the year had "been a very hectic, very tiring, very emotional, [and] very physical challenge".

"Anyone that raises one lap around this place is a hero to me," he added.

"I've seen first-hand the risks involved with the Isle of Man. It'll never stop me doing it.

"It's sad to say, it's a very selfish sport is motorcycle racing.

"I've got a family back home. I've got a wife and two young kids and a grown up child.

"They support me 110% with my endeavour of getting across here to take on the challenge.

"We all know the risks when we take this challenge on.

"But then if you look at it in the same breath, I'm 40 years old and if I walk out drunk on the street [and a] taxi hits me - it's one of those things, it can happen anytime, any place.

"And if that option is there, and someone said right, you're going to die at a TT or you're going to die crossing the road, drunk outside your local pub, I know which one I'd choose."

Welsh rider Mark Purslow was killed in qualifying last week, while Northern Ireland's Davy Morgan died after an accident in the Supersport Race on Monday.

Cesar Chanal, from Lyon in France, died last Saturday in a crash during a sidecar race.

Organisers originally announced his French passenger Olivier Lavorel had been killed before apologising for their error.

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