Kyle White: I feared the worst when news of Adam McLean's crash filtered through at Tandragee
When I was informed that Adam McLean was the rider involved in the red flag incident at the Tandragee 100 on Saturday I feared the worst.
Less than a minute after the Supertwin race was brought to an abrupt halt on the final lap, my heart sank when I learned that the 23-year-old had come off his McAdoo Kawasaki at a very fast section of the 5.3-mile Co. Armagh course coming out of the dip onto the Cabra straight.
An uneasy silence descended as we waited on further news, with unwelcome memories of similar moments during a dark year for road racing last season filtering into everyone’s thoughts.
Finally, following a lengthy delay, it was confirmed that Adam’s injuries were ‘non-serious’.
In motorcycle road racing circles, that meant he was alive at least.
The rest of the race schedule continued and not long after the final event was completed, an update from McLean’s McAdoo Racing team revealed that he had sustained arm, shoulder and pelvic injuries, which would rule him out of the North West 200.
On Monday morning, McAdoo Racing’s Jason McAdoo told me the Tobermore man had broken his right arm in three places, fractured his pelvis, broken his left collarbone and shoulder blade and suffered a single broken rib in the crash.
McAdoo also confirmed that McLean would miss the Isle of Man TT, which is a bitter blow for the young prospect, particularly given his excellent start to the season.
McLean put in a lot of effort over the winter months working on his fitness and also undertook more pre-season testing that ever before on the McAdoo Kawasaki machines.
The fruits of his labour were there for all to see at the Cookstown 100 and Tandragee national meetings.
McLean clinched a victory on his team’s home patch in the Supersport race at Cookstown but his performance on Saturday at Tandragee on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR really caught the eye.
He rode the big Kawasaki sparingly last season, deciding that he needed more experience of the 1000cc machine under his belt before he felt comfortable enough to really commit on the roads.
During the off-season, much of McLean’s focus was centred around developing his understanding of the ZX-10 and he began to make significant inroads.
On Saturday, that progress was underpinned as McLean began to close down race leaders Derek Sheils and Derek McGee in the opening Superbike race before a rear shock issue forced him to slacken off on the final three laps.
He still claimed a podium in third ahead of experienced Irish road racer Michael Sweeney and posted the fastest lap of the day at 107.541mph.
Earlier, he pushed McGee all the way in the Supersport race, losing out by just three-tenths-of-a-second.
He was also a close second in the Supertwin race behind McGee when disaster struck on the last lap.
Speaking from his hospital bed on Monday afternoon, a dejected McLean was resigned to his fate as all his hopes and dreams for this year’s road racing season were undone in one fell swoop.
It is a bitter pill to swallow, even more so with McLean making such rapid progress on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR in particular.
He has demonstrated his potential in the past, not least with a stunning ride to fourth place in the Saturday Supersport race at the North West 200 in 2017 and a runner-up finish behind Conor Cummins in the same class last year at the Ulster Grand Prix, where he sealed his maiden international success in the Supertwin class at Dundrod.
The McAdoo Racing team has an illustrious history having worked with many of the sport’s esteemed names, including Alan Irwin, Brian Reid, Bob Jackson, Ryan Farquhar, Ian Hutchinson, Conor Cummins and Michael Dunlop.
It is praise indeed then to hear Jason McAdoo describe McLean as one of the most promising racers the team has ever worked with over the past 36 years.
They firmly believe he can go all the way to the top and while this latest setback is a major disappointment, the Cookstown-based team has experienced much worse after Yorkshireman James Cowton was tragically killed last year in a crash at the Southern 100.
McLean has youth on his side and although he has been ruled out of the North West 200 and TT, the Ulster Grand Prix in August still offers the chance for the unassuming Ulsterman to make amends before 2019 is done and dusted.
He has the right team behind him to help him reach his full potential and I have no doubt that Adam McLean is a name we will be hearing a lot more of in the future.