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Ducati motorcycling legend Paul Smart dies in crash on A21 near Flimwell

A motorcycling legend has died after a collision on the A21 near Flimwell.

Paul Smart, who rode for Ducati and is among the best riders Britain has ever seen, was killed in the accident on the London-bound carriageway at 1.55pm yesterday.

Paul Smart pictured in 2003 with one of his old race bikes. Picture: John Wardley
Paul Smart pictured in 2003 with one of his old race bikes. Picture: John Wardley

Police say the crash involved a grey Ford Focus and a red Ducati motorcycle, and was just south of the junction with Rosemary Lane.

Mr Smart was confirmed deceased at the scene.

Kent-based motorcycling star, Shane 'Shakey' Byrne, who grew up in Sittingbourne, was among those to pay tribute.

Posting on Instagram yesterday, he said: "I cannot begin to tell you how sad I feel to have to share the news that my great friend Paul "Smartie" Smart had passed away today in a tragic accident.

"I was 11 years old when I first met him, he was at my first ever race and advised me throughout my whole career in a way that only someone like him could.

"Our thoughts here are first and foremost with his family and also to his friends of whom there'll be many... This is a very sad day.. R.I.P Paul Godspeed."

In a statement, Mr Smart’s family said: “It is with huge sadness we have to report that Paul lost his life in a road traffic collision earlier this afternoon while riding his motorcycle in East Sussex and Kent.

“The police and coroner are investigating the circumstances surrounding the accident.

“Paul was a hugely popular character in and out of the paddock, and much loved by his family, friends and fans around the world. He was 78.

“He will forever be synonymous with Ducati, the Italian brand he propelled to international acclaim with victory in the 1972 Imola 200 race.

"Paul also shared a special affinity with the Brands Hatch circuit, having lived literally next door in West Kingsdown for many years.

"Paul is survived by wife Maggie, son Scott and daughter Paula who kindly request their privacy is respected at this difficult time."

Mr Smart was born in Eynsford, near Dartford. His early racing days were spent tearing around the Brands Hatch circuit in the late 1960s as a member of the Charles Mortimer Race School.

Today, Brands Hatch tweeted: "Our thoughts very much with the Smart family. Ride on, Paul."

Success in club racing saw him propelled onto the national scene when he won at a Stars of Tomorrow meeting in 1966.

Paul Smart who died in a crash on the A21 near Flimwell. Picture: Smart family
Paul Smart who died in a crash on the A21 near Flimwell. Picture: Smart family

He secured two second place finishes in the Isle of Man TT Races in the late 60s.

Perhaps his most famous win was at the Imola 200 in 1972 when, aged 29, he was first across the finish line on a Ducati 750 racer.

He retired in 1978, having enjoyed success in 250, 350 and 500 categories.

Commenting on the accident, a police spokesman said: "Officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIU) would like to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident or who was in the area and has dashcam footage that may assist the investigation.

"Witnesses should call the SCIU appeal line on 01622 798 538 or email sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk quoting reference HW/DGC/119/21."

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