A VETERAN motorcyclist has died in a crash at the Manx Grand Prix just days after telling friends it would be his last ever race.
Adam Easton, 71, from Musselburgh in East Lothian, is believed to have been killed when his Norton 500cc motorbike struck a bank while cornering at in the Classic Grand Prix at Lambfell yesterday.
A veteran at the event, Mr Easton was an experienced rider who had competed in 34 races at the Isle of Man circuit since his debut in 1983.
He told friends he had hoped to break his personal speed record at this year’s competition before retiring from racing and taking up golf.
Ann Morrison, a friend and neighbour who had known Mr Easton for 20 years, said he had “died doing the thing he loved best”.
“He wanted to break his record and go faster than 93.21mph I think it was,” said Mrs Morrison. “He said this was going to be his last race and he was going down to beat a record he set a few years ago.
“We were all hoping he would take up the golf and give up the bike. As far as we know he was going round a bend and hit a bank but we don’t know anything more.”
Mr Easton, a single man with no children, worked for many years as a policeman before retiring to drive a taxi.
He was an elder at Northesk Parish Church and had lived in the Honest Toun all his life.
“I heard the news soon after it happened but I haven’t been able to register it yet,” said Mrs Morrison.
“He was a terrific chap and the neighbours are absolutely shocked by what’s happened. Everyone up here just loved him.”
The Melville Motor Club at East Fortune Airfield, near Haddington, paid tribute to Mr Easton, who made regular appearances at its motorcycle meetings.
Diana Dyce, club secretary, said: “It came as a bit of a shock, although we knew where he was and what he was doing.
“He was a lovely man, very polite, an old-fashioned type of gentleman.
“He has been motorcycling and competing for a very long time and there are a lot of people [like him] live for that.”
Mr Easton is the third rider to die at this year’s event, following the deaths of Portadown’s Wayne Hamilton, 20, and 48-year-old Neil Kent from Lincolnshire.
Bill Bennett, chairman of the Manx Motor Cycle Club, paid tribute to the fallen ride. “I knew Adam well from when he first competed at the Manx Grand Prix,” he said.
“He was very much part of the Manx Grand Prix family, well liked by everyone in the paddock and one of the real characters involved with the event. He will be greatly missed.”