A POWER BIKE champion was killed in a 140mph racing tragedy only five weeks after his wedding.
Stephen Hix was killed after taking the lead in the last race in a North Yorkshire motor cycle race meeting which he was attending with his new bride.
The crash occurred at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough at the end of the Cock of the North event at which Mr Hix reached speeds of up to 140mph.
After sailing through the air while negotiating the last of three jumps he landed awkwardly.
The bike began to shake in what an eyewitness called “the worst tank slapper I have ever seen” – referring to a known hazard which often occurs in motorcycling races.
The incident took place just six weeks after he had been married to the “love of his life” Michelle at his parish church in Lincolnshire. His funeral was held there six weeks later.
An inquest was told Mr Hix’s bike began to twist and snake as the front wheel struggled to correct itself.
Nine times out of 10 the rider can accelerate out of trouble, the court heard.
However, because Mr Hix, 38, a father of two, was already travelling at maximum speed of 120-140mph, he could not get any faster to improve his control of the Suzuki GSXR.
Fellow competitor Gareth Evans, a forklift truck driver from Upton, Pontefract, told yesterday’s hearing at Northallerton he was travelling immediately behind Mr Hix as they went into the third lap of the six lap race into the jumps.
He continued: “He went over the last rise and the bike twisted in the air a little bit and got into a snake – a tank slapper.”
The inquest was told Mr Hix would have had less than a second to regain control of his machine – which was impossible due to its speed.
He was still gripping the handlebars as it started to veer towards a hawthorn hedge when he decided to try to leap to safety.
Mr Evans added: “He let go of the handle bars, put his hands over his chest, and twisted away.”
Mr Hix hurtled into the bushes and shrubs where he suffered multiple injuries. The bike careered on into a ravine and was smashed to pieces.
At first, it was not realised Mr Hix was fatally injured because other riders had crashed at the same spot and survived but as race marshals swarmed onto to the track to stop the race the severity of his injuries became apparent.
Widow Michelle sobbed throughout the inquest and broke down in tears after North Yorkshire East Coroner Michael Oakley recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Family friend David Daws, who was best man at the couple’s wedding, said after the hearing: “Michelle is very upset. This process has brought it all back but it also closes this chapter.”
Mr Hix was very high up in the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU), the sport’s governing body, and had been leading their power bike challenge.
Mr Daws added: “Steve was a fine rider – a hard charger on the track. But off the track he was a very good family man - and a very very decent man who she misses a lot.”
The couple had two children Bradley, 12, and daughter Saskia, seven, when they married on June 16.
Mr Daws, a solicitor, added: “They had been together for a number of years. She is taking baby steps at the moment – taking it one day at a time. It was a church wedding then a month later they had the funeral there.”