Former World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty has paid tribute to Craig Jones after his death in an accident during the World Supersport Championship race at Brands Hatch.
Jones was left with serious head injuries after he fell at Clark Curve while battling for the lead of his home race and was clipped by Andrew Pitt's Ten Kate Honda. The 23-year-old was treated at the circuit before being airlifted to the Royal London Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries in the early hours of Monday morning.
Fogarty had given Jones his chance on the world stage in 2006 after partnering him with Steve Martin in what would be the final season of competition for the Foggy Petronas Racing outfit, with the young Brit then moving into the Supersport series in 2007.
Jones had gone on to establish himself as one of leading riders in the 600cc series and was amongst the riders fighting for the title this year, and Fogarty admitted he was stunned by news of his death.
"The news has really flattened me," the four-time WSBK title winner said. "He was a really nice lad and was well-liked by everyone. It's such a sad loss for his family and racing.
"Craig was one of a crop of good young riders who were the future of British racing and I took a chance on him to ride for our team in 2006 because I thought he was the pick of the bunch. I saw a lot of my determination in him and gave him the chance to learn the world circuits the hard way, hoping it would stand him in good stead in the future.
"After our team finished he was determined to stay on the world scene and was beginning to show his talent this season in the World Supersport championship. Our thoughts go out to his long-term partner Karen, his family and friends and his team."
Jones had been one of the first riders to take part in the ACU Road Race Academy when it was launched back in 2000, and Dave Luscombe – the ACU Academy manager – said it was a tragedy to lose of one of the Britain's top talents.
"His performances this year within the World Supersport Championship had made everybody connected with the ACU Academy extremely proud of what he achieved and perhaps we played a very small part in helping him achieve this success," he said. "It is such a tragedy to lose one of the country's brightest prospects."