A Freak accident? | Inquirer Lifestyle

A Freak accident?

He’s been crucified by fans who consider him responsible for Maico’s  tragic accident, but sportsman-businessman Johnny Tan says his conscience is clear, and that he has opted to stay quiet  out of respect for the Buncio family.

“Words are not enough to describe my grief,” he says. “I considered and treated Maico like a son. This is a sad moment in racing history and I wish to convey my deepest prayer and sympathy to the Buncio family.”

The 51-year-old Tan, executive director of the Batangas Racing Circuit, which operates the Clark International Speedway, describes what happened as a “freak” accident. He also brushes aside claims of negligence that observers say contributed greatly to Maico’s death last May 14 at the Clark Speedway.

“Eighty riders, including Maico, took part in inspecting the circuit through test runs that totalled 15 sessions starting at 8 a.m.,” he says. “The practices were designed to give riders a chance to familiarize themselves with the race track, condition their motorcycles and check if there are problems with the track, which then should be communicated to the  safety officers or the Race Operations Director.  But nobody complained,” Tan recalls. “The accident happened during the 16th session.”

Tan stresses that nobody really saw what happened, but offers a theory:   The impact of Maico being thrown from a bike travelling at 220 kph might have been enough to take out the tire barrier, which in turn exposed the iron bar that pierced the young rider’s abdomen, he says.

The race, Tan adds, was sanctioned by the ruling National Motorcycle Sports and Safety Association (NAMSSA) and the Automobile Association of the Philippines. But he is grateful, he says, to members of the House committee on youth and sports development for its inquiry into the matter.

“I want the racing community to know my side,” says  Tan, who reveals that he has decided to suspend all motorcycle races at the BRC, Carmona Racing and Clark until the NAMSSA, the riders union and members of the House of Representatives have evaluated the safety standards in place.

Tan says he doesn’t harbor ill feelings against the Buncio family. “Yoyong [Maico’s father] and I are very close because we love the sport. Losing a son is tragic, and I understand the feelings of Maico’s parents. I can feel their pain.” Dennis U. Eroa