Manx TT death toll rises

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Organisers of the Isle of Man TT races have insisted the event will start today despite the death of three competitors in practice.

Two riders suffered fatal injuries in crashes yesterday morning, four days after a sidecar passenger fell to his death. The latest victims of the public road circuit were Mick Lofthouse, from Lancashire, and the New Zealander Robert Holden.

Lofthouse, a 28-year-old professional rider from Oswaldwistle, near Accrington, and former British 125cc champion, a crashed on the Milntown section of the 37-mile Mountain Course while riding a 250cc Yamaha.

Holden, a 37-year-old mechanic from Wellington who won the singles TT race last year and had lapped at 120mph earlier this week, fell from his Ducati at Glen Helen.

Sidecar passenger Aaron Kennedy, from Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, died on the Crosby section on Monday.

The overall death toll of the event, first run in 1907, now stands at 167. Jack Wood, the clerk of the course, said: "You stop and wonder why you are doing it, but the answer is simple: because the competitors want you to do it."

"We do all we can in terms of safety. These events are put on for the competitor. They want to race here. The show will go on as long as the riders want it to."

The eight-race festival gets underway today with the six-lap Formula One TT.