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2017-02-13 09:24

RIPGav33: MSA and Killarney have shed some light on the late Gavin Ramsay's death during the Passion for Speed event at Killarney on Feb.4 Image: Facebook

Janine Van der Post

Cape Yown - A *video of SA champion Gavin Ramsay's passing has caused an uproar on social media. Speculation and accusations are rife while Killarney race track assures motorsport fans that correct protocols were followed.

Motorcycle rider Ramsay was killed in a crash at the annual Passion for Speed event at Killarney Raceway on February 4 2017. Ramsay's memorial service was held in Springs, outside Johannesburg on Friday (Feb. 10).

READ: As it happened - Gavin '#33' Ramsay laid to rest

Motosport fans who had viewed a video, published on YouTube, did not see yellow flags. Killarney claims there were in fact double yellow flags deployed at the time of the crash.

It still leaves many unanswered questions; Why wasn't the bike removed from the track? Why did it take so long for the red flag to be used? 

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post asked Motorsport South Africa CEO, Adrian Scholtz, the following:

1. Will the MSA investigate the incident, what does this entail? 
2. Will there be any other investigations, perhaps from SAPS?
3. How does this incident affect MSA? 
4. Will safety procedures be changed at Killarney Raceway?
5. Will anything be done to improve track safety (i.e surface improvements) at Killarney?

READ: South African motorsport fans react to Gavin Ramsay’s death

Motorsport South Africa responds

Scholtz responded: "It is always tragic and sad when someone dies in a motorsport-related incident and Gavin Ramsay’s accident is no different in this regard. However, the rush to judgment by some people is sometimes quite breathtaking, unfortunately aided and abetted by the ubiquitous social media platforms.

"It is infinitely regrettable that opinions (often from people without even the remotest link to a situation) often drown out the actual facts in the social media space and therefore I applaud the statement put out by the Ramsay family following Gavin’s accident.

"MSA’s job in this type of situation is to gather evidence to establish the facts surrounding what happened, and then decide on a course of action based on what we have found. This process is currently underway and a big part of it will be to see what, if indeed anything, can be improved upon to try as best as is reasonably possible to prevent a similar situation from arising again in the future."  

Scholtz continued: "It would be premature for MSA to make any further comment on this matter while our investigation is underway, and therefore we will not be doing so."

Killarney responds

Van der Post also to Western Province Motoring Club (WPMC) / Killarney Raceway's executive manager Des Easom.

Wheels24:
What are your thought regarding claims that officials took a 'long time' to respond? The previous rider was already escorted from track, yet his bike remained behind?


Easom: "The investigation is ongoing and there are no findings at this point.

"However in response to your specific question: The video that has been posted on social media creates the impression that there was an extended time period. In real time, and based on information from the timekeepers, there was some 25 seconds between the first and the second fall. The marshals immediately reacted to the first fall by showing double yellow flags at the marshal post on the main straight before the accident scene.

"Double yellow flags indicate extreme danger and obstruction ahead, and is a directive to riders to slow down and prepare to stop. This is not seen on the video. The marshals then ran from their position on the wall on the outside of KFM Corner, some distance away, to the scene. On the scene they assisted the rider (which is their first priority) and then went to the motorcycle to move it, but before they could do it, the second fall happened. After deducting the time taken for the marshals to get to the bike and assist the rider, there was very little time to move the motorcycle before the leaders went safely pass the fallen bike.

Wheels24: This incident seems similar to Luca Agostinelli's crash in 2012 where the clerk of the course took 1min14 to react to a bike on track and any warnings/flags to come out. Why the delay? 

Easom: Given the response to question 1, the incidents are different and therefore not a repetition. There was an official investigation into the Luca incident by MSA and their findings were made public.

Wheels24: What is Killarney/WPMC doing to ensure safety and that something like this won’t happen again?

Easom: "It is not possible for any race track anywhere in the world to make such an undertaking. Killarney takes safety very seriously. Despite technological advances in racing machines and stringent safety measures, racing at high speeds around tight corners in a competitive sport will always be dangerous. Based purely on statistics, racing is much safer than driving or riding on a public road.  

"The last racing related fatality at Killarney was some years ago. 

"Every incident and accident is different, but is investigated fully. In the case of Gavin Ramsay there is a joint investigation with Motorsport SA, the controlling body of motorsport. If there are any lessons learned, they are applied to improve the safety of racing. If there is clear and proven negligence, Killarney will take appropriate action.

"There are many factors at play with an accident, including but not limited to mechanical issues; speed, track conditions, the behaviour and actions of the rider/racing driver, and the other competitors.  

READ: Gavin Ramsay's family asks public to stop 'finger-pointing'

Gavin Ramsay’s family has appealed for people not to speculate, blame or jump to conclusions on social media and to let the investigation take its course.

Extract from the Ramsay family’s appeal: "We do understand that many people are very upset by this incident and have noticed videos, various comments and posts directed at various individuals on Social Media. We hereby plead with everyone to desist from the finger pointing, speculation and laying of blame. And to please remove such material from the various forums and social media platforms. In the spirit of who Gavin was, he would not have wanted it this way. Please let us not use Social Media as a platform to lay blame or make any allegations and allow for an ordered process for this matter to be investigated."

*The video has since been removed from YouTube
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