Rider Matsushita dies during Isle of Man qualifying

AFP-JIJI

Motorcyclist Yoshinari Matsushita was killed during qualifying at the Isle of Man TT, event organizers announced on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old Tyco Suzuki rider died after an incident late on Monday at Ballacrye on the north of the island, which lies in the Irish Sea between the British mainland and Ireland.

The qualifying session was promptly canceled, according to the race organizers, Auto Cycle Union Events Ltd (ACU).

Matsushita, who hailed from Saitama, had competed at the TT since 2009 and finished fifth in the TT Zero for electric bikes in 2011.

He also raced in the superstock and superbike classes.

“The ACU wishes to pass on their deepest sympathy to Yoshinari’s family and friends,” said a statement on the ACU website.

Gary Thompson, clerk of the course, said: “Yoshi was a really popular competitor, who had a large number of friends in the TT Races paddock.

“He was a genuine and friendly character who always had time for everyone. He will be sorely missed.”

Tyco Suzuki’s manager, Phil Neill, said the Northern Ireland-based team was “devastated” by Matsushita’s death.

“We were very much looking forward to working with Yoshinari during TT2013 and pass on our deepest condolences to his family and fellow team members,” Neill said.

The ACU said that an investigation into the incident had been opened.

The Isle of Man TT is renowned for being one of the most dangerous races in the sport. Matsushita is the 21st rider to die in the event since 2000.