The motorcyling community has been stunned by the death of Kilham rider James Cowton, who suffered fatal injuries in a crash on the Isle of Man.
The 26-year-old was racing at his favourite circuit at the Southern 100 meeting when he was involved in an accident with three other bikes.
James was injured near Stadium Bends during the 600cc Challenge race last Thursday and organisers confirmed his death a few hours later.
Sue Symons, a family friend who looked after James’ social media pages, told the Free Press: “I have known him since he was about four years old. I remember him riding round the paddock at Oliver’s Mount on one of those children’s plastic bikes.
“He always had a smile on his face. He was a lovely young man, a true Yorkshire lad. He had an extraordinary talent and such effervescence.”
Sue said that James was naturally quiet and modest but had grown in confidence as he had enjoyed success on the national stage in recent years.
“He had a fantastic sense of humour, absolutely amazing, his smile was just fabulous,” she added.
“James was dedicated determined and professional. He liked everything to be perfect.
“He was loved in the racing paddock, a very popular rider. If you went to any of the meetings at Oliver’s Mount, he was always surrounded by people and it was the same in Northern Ireland.
“People came up to him all the time asking for photographs and autographs. He didn’t realise how popular he was.”
A statement from Southern 100 MCRC, organisers of the Southern 100 International Road Races, said: “Southern 100 Racing extends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of James Cowton at this very sad time.
“The organisers are carrying out a full investigation in conjunction with the Isle of Man Constabulary into the circumstances of the incident on behalf of the Coroner of Inquests.”
James was at the Isle of Man riding for the McAdoo Racing team, and was with his dad Fran and girlfriend Chloe.
Sue said: “His dad was his mentor. Fran’s life revolved around James’ racing. They worked together in the family firm and they had the most wonderful relationship, which was so nice to see.
“And the Southern 100 was James’ favourite track. He had a lot of success there.
“Forever in our thoughts, Golden Boy #52.”