Ashes of Italian motorcyclist Dario scattered on Tandragee course

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Ashes of Italian motorcyclist Dario scattered on Tandragee course thumbnailLAST LAP: Tragic Dario Cecconi’s racing helmet and gloves sit atop his flag-draped coffin during an emotional send-off in Tandragee on Thursday night.

ITALIAN motorbike racer Dario Cecconi's ashes have been scattered around his beloved Tandragee 100 course at his grieving family's request, the Ulster Gazette can reveal.

The 38-year-old from Livorno in Tuscany - who was taken on a final lap of the circuit last Thursday evening - lost his fight for life at Craigavon Area Hospital, three days after he was critically injured while competing at this year's event.

Dario had been competing in the Super Support Race and was just yards from the finishing line in the final race of the day, when he was involved in a collision with another competitor. The other rider escaped with minor injuries following the crash, which happened just a short distance from Bells Crossroads.

Despite receiving medical attention at the scene, Dario was rushed by ambulance to hospital under a police escort, but sadly succumbed to his injuries last Tuesday.

Dario's heartbroken brother Luca Cecconi and partner Francesca had made the agonising journey from Italy to visit him in the hospital's intensive care unit where he was being treated.

The death of the highly respected and popular competitor, who adored the Tandragee circuit and even had a 'Tandragee 100 - Forever in my Heart' tattoo on his arm, has left the world of motor racing in mourning.

On Thursday evening, the high regard in which Dario was held was evident as hundreds of people turned out to pay their final respects as a hearse carrying his remains, took him on a final lap around the Tandragee 100 circuit.

Poignantly a chequered flag was waved as the hearse containing his coffin - draped in the Italian and Ulster flags - crossed the finish line during the special lap of honour.

A total of 186 bikes followed the cortege as it completed the lap that Dario had sadly been unable to finish due to the tragic accident.

At the start line on the Drumnamether Road, the hearse stopped and a short service was held, before continuing the journey around the track.

Dario's brother Luca - who returned to his native Italy on Saturday - has since expressed his thanks to everyone who attended Thursday evening's service and revealed he has been "looking for the right words to say thank you".

"I have finally come to the conclusion that there isn't any, these terms simply do not exist," he posted to the Tandragee 100 Road Races' Facebook page.

"You can't write down your feelings black on white on paper. They come straight from the heart and there they will stay forever.

"You haven't only surrounded with your love, you have showed us complete and unconditional respect. You have left me speechless.

"I would have loved to shake your hand, all of you one by one.

"The Cecconi family, Dario's partner Francesca and all of his friends in Italy are immensely grateful to you," he said.

In a further poignant move, Dario's name is also set to be added to a new memorial being proposed at Clare Glen to all those who have sadly lost their lives over the years at the Tandragee 100.

The project, which has been undertaken by Ahorey man and road racing champion, RJ Woolsey, is currently awaiting planning permission from council before its construction can be finalised.

"Dario's name will be on the new memorial along with the others and it is terrible that his name is going to have to be added," RJ told the Ulster Gazette.

RJ, who attended Thursday evening's service, said Dario's brother had been "very touched" by the applause and the special service.

"Everybody clapped when he got out of the car and he was very touched at the support Dario had at this wee service which was only organised a few hours before hand.

"You could just tell Luca was really touched and that was the most moving thing," added RJ.

Tandragee 100 Clerk of the Course, Anne Forsythe said the club intends to keep in touch with Dario's family and would be extending an invitation to the official unveiling of the new memorial.

Speaking to the Gazette on Monday, she said: "They are back home again and today they have an opportunity for all Dario's Italian friends and family to come and pay their respects as some of his ashes will be on display in Tuscany."

And she added: "Dario will be very sadly missed by the Club. Dario was an experienced competitor who had competed in a number of Irish Road Races; this year being his sixth year at Tandragee.

"The officials and the club extend their sympathy to Dario's family and partner at this saddest of times."

Donations in lieu of flowers are being accepted on behalf of the Injured Riders Welfare Fund, c/o Milne Funeral Services, 59 Seagoe Road, Portadown, BT63 5HS.



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