THE owners of a racetrack where a Yorkshire motorcyclist died after a crash have described the accident as a "black day" for the sport.
Darren Mitchell, 31, from Elland, was airlifted to hospital after the pile-up in the opening lap of the National Superstock Championship at Brands Hatch, Kent, which also left seven riders injured.
He was treated at the circuit before being airlifted by the Kent Air Ambulance to Maidstone Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
Jonathan Palmer, the managing director of MotorSport Vision, which owns the track, said: "This has been a black day for the popular Superstock series.
"I understand Darren was an immensely popular rider and was the victim of a freak accident in wet conditions in which several other riders were also injured.
"I very much hope all of these make a full recovery."
A full inquiry into 33-year-old Mr Mitchell's death is now under way.
Kent Police, on behalf of the Coroner, and the Motorcycle Circuit Racing Board are conducting the investigation.
Mr Mitchell was one of several riders who crashed at Pilgrim's Drop on the first lap of the 15-lap race.
MCRCB spokesman Dave Fern said: "Darren was a skilled rider and last year won the corresponding championship at Brands Hatch.
"He was a man who loved the sport and was regarded as a very good rider.
"He was an unassuming man who simply wanted to get on with his sporting career. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
"For anyone to die pursuing their sporting love is a major tragedy."
Mr Mitchell started motor sport as a youngster in Elland, following in the footsteps of his father, Robert, who was a road racer.
Robert Mitchell and his wife Katherine devoted much of their time and finances to help their young son become a success in the sport.
Mr Mitchell returned to racing a few years ago and was well placed in the national Superstock Championships.
One of the other riders hurt at Brands, Jamie Morley, who suffered multiple injuries, was "stable but serious" in Kent's London Hospital today.
Mark Heckles is "comfortable", having sustained a broken leg and broken ribs, and Dean Johnson was treated for a broken leg.
The race was halted as a mark of respect.