The mother of one of the competitors who died in last year’s races has told an inquest she doesn’t believe her son and his colleague would swap tags deliberately.
Cesar Chanal’s mother addressed the inquest last week and began by thanking everyone who had supported the families since the crash last June.
She said that, despite hearing from witnesses and a thorough investigation, no one could say they ever saw the two men swap tags.
‘This first TT was the race of their lives,’ she said, before adding that the two men were ‘responsible people’ and that she could not believe they would have deliberately swapped their name tags.
In a moving speech, she added: ‘I will not let anybody discredit their honour. I would like to say one thing, they are no more, and I wish them the best, our unconditional love has followed them, is following them and will follow them in their eternal lives.’
Coroner of Inquests Jayne Hughes has said that despite a detailed investigation, we will likely never know exactly how two French sidecar racers met their deaths.
Mrs Hughes was speaking at the conclusion of the inquest into the death of César Louis Roger Chanal, aged 32, of Brons, France.
Mr Chanal’s death followed a crash near Ago’s Leap on the opening lap of the first Sidecar Race of TT22 on Saturday, June 4.
His passenger, Olivier Lavorel, died in France some months later and as such the Manx Coroner has no jurisdiction over his death.
Throughout the inquest, Mrs Hughes had heard from witnesses giving evidence on the road works undertaken in the area prior to the resumption of the TT post-pandemic, the machine they were racing on and the issue of confusion around identification of the two men.
Addressing the death of Mr Chanal, Mrs Hughes read from a postmortem report by Dr Ervine Long, who said the Frenchman had died as a result of multiple injuries resulting from high speed crash.
She said: ‘It is not necessary and I do not intend to go into those injuries.’
While the cause of Mr Chanal’s death is known, the matter of how that happened remains unclear.
Having heard from Dave Molyneux, who competed in the sidecar races, as well as Department of Infrastructure highways lead designer Scott Duncan and Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson, Mrs Hughes said there is no evidence that the relaid road played a role in his death.
The Coroner also ruled out an issue with the machine, after it was inspected by technical director David Hagen, who examined the machine at the scene and later in a workshop.
He said: ‘Following my examination, I found no mechanical defects that would have caused the incident.’
In her conclusion, Mrs Hughes said that she was aware that the events of Mr Chanal’s death were ‘a tragedy for the family of all those involved’ and said she was ‘sure they are looking for definitive answers’.
However, she said: ‘Sadly, as is often the case, I am unable to provide that definitive answer’.
She added: ‘A question mark remains over how he died.’
Mrs Hughes said that while she was unable to find a definitive reason for the cause of the crash, she was satisfied in reaching a conclusion of death by misadventure as Mr Chanal had entered the TT fully aware of the risks and died as a result of an accident.
She also noted that despite the two men being found with each other’s dog tags, which led to the issue around identification, she was unable to come to a conclusion as to how this happened.
Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson also spoke at the inquest and said that in future all riders will be required to wear both a dog tag and have a patch on the inside of their leathers as standard, so as to avoid any doubt over identification.
He also outlined penalties for people found not to be doing this and said that sidecars will face extra scrutiny ahead of the 2023 races.
As a result of the planned changes introduced by the ACU ahead of this year’s TT, Mrs Hughes said she would not be making any recommendations alongside her verdict.
She said: ‘On the basis of evidence presented to me I have not identified an issue with the location or sidecar racing more generally.’
However, mindful that she will soon be resuming the inquest into the death of father and son team Roger and Bradley Stockton, who died in a crash on Senior Race Day in almost exactly the same spot and Mr Chanel, Mrs Hughes said that this view could change after that inquest is concluded.
Extending her condolences to Mr Chanel’s family, Mrs Hughes said: ‘I hope this inquest has provided some closure to you.’
While unable to do the same for Mr Lavorel’s family, some of whom were in attendance, Mrs Hughes did also extend her condolences to them.