THE Irish motorcyclist killed in a race on the Isle of Man yesterday was airlifted for treatment after a serious crash at the event in 2009.
Derek Brien died after crashing during the first lap of yesterday morning's opening Supersport race at the Isle of Man TT.
He was photographed near the start of the route at 10.45am, around 20 minutes before the fatal accident and just before he began the second lap. The conditions on the Mountain Course at the time were described as "perfect".
The 37-mile race was immediately red-flagged after Mr Brien's bike left the road. Medics rushed to the scene but Mr Brien (34) was pronounced dead a short time afterwards.
The race was rescheduled to continue at 1pm but was shortened from four laps to three -- and was won by experienced New Zealand biker Bruce Anstey.
An investigation has now been launched into the cause of the accident which was the second fatal accident -- and third death -- at the event over the past week.
A carpenter by trade, Mr Brien had previously spoken about missing out on the Isle of Man event because of the cost involved with buying and maintaining a bike.
"No other sport gets the adrenaline up and gives you the same buzz as road racing," he said in an interview in 2008.
"You don't think of the danger, just the road ahead of you and going faster than the next guy. I really missed it big time."
Mr Brien, from Bellewstown, Co Meath, had taken part in the race a number of times and had travelled to the island last week with his partner Sarah.
His friend John Murray said the 34-year-old had been a talented performer on the race track.
"He was well-known and well liked. He was a very quiet lad," Mr Murray said. "He's been racing this last six or seven years, and he had been doing very well."
Mr Brien competed in the Superbike race on Saturday and had taken part in qualifying races in the previous days. He was scheduled to take part in his final race -- the Supersport 2 -- tomorrow morning.
Mr Brien won the junior event at the 2007 Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man, driving at an average speed of 118mph. He was also a regular competitor at both the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix. He also participated in the Irish Superbikes Championship, with his best performance a third placing in the Open 1000cc series in 2007. Mr Brien opted out of racing the next season for financial reasons but returned to action in 2009.
Jim Parker, managing director of ACU Events which organises the Isle of Man race, described Mr Brien as a "very talented road racer". "Derek achieved a number of notable career highlights including his Manx Grand Prix victory. He will be sorely missed," Mr Parker said.
Mr Brien is the third fatality at this year's event. Sidecar competitor Bill Currie (67) and his passenger Kevin Morgan (59) died in a crash during practice last Tuesday.
A post mortem will be carried out on Mr Brien's body before it is brought back to Ireland.