A young rally driver who was killed while driving at speed wanted to “follow in his dad’s footsteps”, an inquest was told.
Timothy Cathcart, 20, was driving at around 110mph when his vehicle crashed during the Todds Leap Ulster Rally in August 2014.
He was pronounced dead at the scene after sustaining fatal head injuries in the collision.
The 20-year-old student lost control of his modified DS3 Citroen, which consequently crashed, just metres from the finish line. The inquest heard that Mr Cathcart was trying to be like his dad, Ian Cathcart, who was also a rally driver.
Mr Cathcart crashed into several trees and two fences, one of which divided the narrow country track from a private property.
David Nicholson, a forensic scientist who investigated the crash, said there would have only been around 1.9 seconds from the moment Mr Cathcart lost control of his car on the crest to the point he collided with the first fence.
In his opinion, the young driver had “done everything possible” to prevent the collision and “it would have been very difficult to regain vehicle control,” he told the court.
Co-driver Dai Roberts survived the crash in Fivemiletown, Co Fermanagh, although did sustain serious head injuries.
During the inquest into Mr Cathcart’s death, coroner Patrick McGurgan said Mr Roberts had been lucky to survive.
Referring to the fence post that caused Mr Cathcart’s injuries but narrowly missed Mr Roberts, the coroner said it is “almost miraculous that the co-driver got out of the car”.
Mr McGurgan made a suggestion in court that rally drivers should accompany race organisers in a walk along the route prior to racing, to highlight any visibility issues or difficult turns.
The technical director of the RAC Motorsports Association believes drivers involved in these types of races should accept the dangers of rallying.
Speaking at the inquest, John Symes – who has since retired – said the “ethos of rallying is very much, ‘take it as it is'”.
“There are hazards accepted by the rallying community. There are telegraph poles, fences, trees, all manner of things, but they are accepted as part of rallying,” he said.
“It’s the accumulation of lots of different issues. If you hit anything it’s a hazard. This fence was no more a hazard than anything else along this country road. It is seen as an acceptable hazard in the rallying fraternity.”
Source: The Belfast Telegraph
Date Published: February 12, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown