TRIBUTES have been pouring in for tragic Cheshire motorcycle racer Craig Jones, who died following a crash at Brands Hatch on Sunday.
The 23-year-old was battling for the lead in the British leg of the World Supersport Championship when he lost control of his 600cc bike at the 120mph Clark Curve, fell and was hit by the following bike.
Parkalgar Honda rider Craig suffered serious head injuries and was transferred to the Royal London Hospital by Kent Air Ambulance, but died in the early hours of Monday having never regained consciousness.
Craig, of Northwich, was a well-known figure on the Cheshire motorsport scene, having risen through the ranks to become one of the sport’s outstanding prospects.
Mum Yvonne, who rushed to Kent after seeing the crash on television, said: “It is our only consolation that he died doing what he loved.
“We had talked about the dangers seven years ago when he had a bad smash and he said then, ‘mum, if I die racing, I’ll die happy’.
“He has had an extra seven years.”
Former World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty added: “It’s such a sad loss for his family and racing.
“Craig was one of a crop of good young riders who were the future of British racing.”
Craig regularly raced alongside Frodsham rider Howie Mainwaring during his teenage years.
Howie’s dad Steve, himself a former superbike rider, contacted The Chronicle on Tuesday to pay tribute to Craig.
He said: “I’d like to pass on my sympathies to Craig’s family. Howie and Craig grew up together and Howie is devastated.
“From a parents’ point of view, you just don’t expect this sort of thing to happen and it is so upsetting when it does.”
Steve, of Frodsham, added: “Craig’s death is a big, big loss to the sport. He was one of the best, if not the best, in his series.”
Jonathan Palmer, chief executive of MotorSport Vision, which owns Brands Hatch as well as Cheshire circuit Oulton Park, said Craig was a “determined and professional” rider.
“I am so desperately sad that Craig died from the injuries he sustained at Brands Hatch,” he said.
“Britain has lost a wonderful rider whom I admired enormously and had every chance of being a future world champion.”
Wrexham-based freelance photographer Glynne Lewis captured pictures of Craig just two minutes before his crash.
He had spoken to him earlier in the day.
Glynne said: “He spoke of his ambitions for next year and getting better results this season. He was determined to do well in front of British fans.”
Craig, who attended Hartford High School and Mid-Cheshire College, won the British Superstock Championship in 2002.
Jones moved to Peterborough five years ago, setting up home with girlfriend Karen Atkins. He had two sisters, Kirsty and Cassie, and a niece, Libby.
Craig’s funeral will take place on Monday, August 18, in Peterborough. To leave your tributes to Craig, visit www.chesterchronicle.co.uk.