The County Tyrone based Cookstown Burrows Engineering Racing team are finding it hard to come to terms with the tragic loss of their rider Malachi Mitchell Thomas who succumbed to injuries after he crashed out of the second Supertwins race at the North West 200. After the fatal accident the meeting was abandoned.
Team owner John Burrows has been left reeling by the cruellest blow suffered since he formed his successful road racing team. He said: "The whole team has been devastated by Malachi's death, to be honest everyone is in a state of shock. Of course, Malachi's loss will be felt most by his family and his close friends and I'd like to offer my heartfelt condolences to his nearest and dearest.
"Malachi had only been with the team a few months but he quickly became part of the family and we will all miss him so much. He loved life and racing and the talent and enthusiasm just bubbled out of him. He was a joy to be around. Before he started the Supertwins race he had a massive smile on his face as he has just ridden the race of his life, finishing fourth in the Supersport race ahead of the likes of Dean Harrison, John McGuinness and James Hillier. I will never forget that smile, it's just so cruel that we have lost him.
"I've been asked what my racing plans are but for now my thoughts are with Malachi's family. Malachi's father Kevin wants the team to race on but I want time to consider everything and I'll make an announcement in due course. In the immediate future all I'm focused on is giving my support to Malachi's family and helping the team get through a very difficult period."
Road racing has undoubtedly lost one of its greatest prospects. Before tragedy struck on the Coast Road, the 20-year-old Malachi Mitchell Thomas seemed destined for major international success and stardom. His progress in the sport was sensational.
Malachi was a top class, race wining Supermoto rider before making the transition to road racing. He was a leading light in both the British and European Supermoto championships and had the distinction of being the youngest ever rider to be selected to represent Great Britain at the Supermoto of Nations event.
He easily made the transition to road racing in 2014. He was a regular points scorer in the British Superstock 600 series and first time 'between the hedges' he was the best newcomer in every race he contested at the Southern 100 and took his first podium on the Billown circuit when he finished second to Conor Cummins. At the 2014 Manx Grand Prix, Mitchell Thomas finished second in the Newcomers A race, beaten by less than two seconds.
In 2015, Mitchell-Thomas took top six finishes in the British Superstock 600 series but where he really excelled was at the Manx Grand Prix where after finishing second in the Junior race he won the Senior race and established a new Manx Grand Prix lap record of 122.22 mph.
This year Malachi was a breath of fresh air on the Irish road racing scene. First time at the Mid-Antrim 150 he scored a Superbike win and did the Supersport double, his hat-trick earning him the Man of the Meeting award. He followed that up with three rostrum finishes at Tandragee and then went to Cookstown where he won the Supertwins race and finished second to his team mate Derek Sheils in the feature race.
Just what Malachi could have achieved we will now never know but he has left great memories for all those who were privileged to have known him.
Photo Credit: Baylon McCaughey