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Home   Gravesend   News   Article

Former BMW motorsport chief died as a result of an accident at Brands Hatch, a coroner has ruled

23 January 2014
by Thom Morris

Old Town Hall in Gravesend High Street

The inquest was heard at Old Town Hall in Gravesend

Former BMW motorsport chief Karl-Heinz Kalbfell died as a result of an accident at Brands Hatch, a coroner has ruled.

The 63-year-old was taking part in a practice session for the Lansdowne Classic Series when his bike ran wide exiting Druids corner and hit a gravel pit and slipped away from underneath him.

The inquest into his death, held at Gravesend’s Old Town Hall, heard from pick up marshall Philip Hamblin from Dartford who was positioned at Graham Hill.

He told the inquest that Mr Kalbfell, riding his Matchless Walmsley G50, appeared to be conscious and trying to get up following the incident.

A number of bikes, believe to be about 10, managed to avoid Mr Kalbfell and his bike, but when number nine, ridden by experienced rider Timothy Jackson, came around the corner, he struck Mr Kalbfell .

Mr Hamblin said: “The bike came round the corner and couldn’t take successful avoiding action. It struck him in the middle of the torso whilst he was still on the ground. That rider was thrown into the air and ended up further down the track. I don’t see how he could have avoided it. You come round a corner and you see that, I don’t see how he could have avoided him.”

Also giving evidence was Timothy Jackson who struck Mr Kalbfell with his Norton AJS 350cc motorcycle.

The inquest heard how Mr Jackson had been racing bikes since 1966 and was an experienced racer.

He told the inquest that he saw the bike 30 feet ahead, directly in front of him as he came around the corner.

Coroner Roger Hatch, reading from Mr Jackson’s statement said: “The rider was lying directly in front of you. He was laying face down.

"You weren’t able to see how the rider came off his bike. You didn’t see him fall off. You hit the rider with your front tyre and flew through the air and hit the track about 30 feet away.”

Mr Jackson was stretchered off but did not sustain serious injuries. Both were taken to Darent Valley Hospital.

An investigation by police found all the bikes taking part were well maintained and in good working order.

Delivering his verdict, Mr Hatch said: “The cause of death was due to multiple injuries. He was practicing for the race taking place later that day.

"There were some 22 others taking part in the qualifier. It seems after exiting Druids bend, he lost control having hit the rumble strip and gravel pit, he and his motorcycle parted company.

"Mr Jackson was riding behind and was presented with a situation where he could take no evasive action. From the injuries he suffered he subsequently died.

"It is a dangerous sport and riders frequently part company from their machines – usually without any after effect. Sadly, on this occasion, it wasn’t the case.”

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