Tributes paid to Ballyclare road racer Darren Keys following fatal crash at Walderstown

Ballyclare road racer Darren Keys, who was killed in a crash at the Walderstown Road Races on Sunday.
Ballyclare road racer Darren Keys, who was killed in a crash at the Walderstown Road Races on Sunday.

Tributes have been paid to road racer Darren Keys, who was killed in a crash at the Walderstown Road Races on Sunday.

The 34-year-old died following a high-speed accident in the Senior Support race at the County Westmeath meeting.

Darren Keys in action on his 600cc Suzuki at the Walderstown Road Races. Picture: Pacemaker Press.

Darren Keys in action on his 600cc Suzuki at the Walderstown Road Races. Picture: Pacemaker Press.


He was airlifted to the Mater Hospital in Dublin but was later pronounced dead.


Racing was abandoned following the fatal incident.


Mr Keys made his road racing debut at Armoy in 2016 and on Sunday night, the club issued a statement paying tribute to the tragic racer.


The statement said: ‘The Directors, Management and Club Members of the Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club are devastated to hear about the death of Darren Keys after he was involved in an incident in today's Senior Support Race at Walderstown.


‘After making his road racing debut in Armoy back in 2016, Darren was really making a name for himself on the Irish National scene.


‘A proper gentleman both on and off the bike, he was loved by everyone in the paddock - fellow riders, officials and fans alike. A bright talent taken much too soon and he will be greatly missed.”

The statement extended “deepest sympathy” to Darren's wife children, family, friends and the team at this very sad time, adding: “Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. RIP #94.”


In recent seasons, Mr Keys had focused more on road racing after making the transition from the short circuit scene.


He won the Senior Support races at the Enniskillen and the Skerries 100 meetings in recent weeks.


Bill Kennedy, Clerk of the Course at Armoy, described Darren as a “lovely fellow”.


He told the News Letter: “I spoke to him at Enniskillen recently and he told me he was looking forward to racing at Armoy this year.


“I feel gutted because he has a wife and a lovely wee daughter and son.


“Darren was so genuine and mild-mannered. All he wanted to do was just race his motorbike.


“He did a lot of circuits and he seemed to be concentrating more on the road racing this year and it was going very good.


“It is terribly sad what has happened. This is the sickening news that no one wants to ever get.”


One race was held on Sunday at Walderstown, with Derek Sheils taking victory in the Open Superbike event for the Dungannon-based Burrows Engineering Racing team.


However, Sheils' team boss, John Burrows, said the victory was 'irrelevant'.


“First and foremost my thoughts are with the family and friends of Darren Keys,” Burrows said.


“I didn’t know Darren all that well but I’m gutted for him and more so for his family and kids.


“I’m on holidays at the moment with my own children and it really brings it home to you when something like this happens,” he added.


“Derek won the Open race for us today and has been in terrific form, but under the circumstances it’s irrelevant really after what has happened.”


An investigation into the cause of the fatal crash is under way.


A Gardaí statement issued to the News Letter on Sunday afternoon said: 'Gardaí are investigating the death of a participant during the Walderstown motor cycle road racing event in Co. Westmeath.


'At approximately 11.30am a 34-year-old-man from Northern Ireland was seriously injured when his motor cycle was involved in a crash during a race at Walderstown. He was treated at the scene before being airlifted to the Mater Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.


'The event has been abandoned and Garda forensic collision investigators are examining the crash site. Enquires are ongoing, the Coroner has been notified and post-mortem examination will we arranged. A file will be prepared in accordance with the Coroners Act.'