Tributes paid to tragic rally crash driver

Mr Mort with his partner Sarah, from Cleveleys

Mr Mort with his partner Sarah, from Cleveleys

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It was meant to be a new life settling on his dream island after the ordeal of beating leukaemia.

However, just two weeks after Andy Mort left the Fylde coast to begin life on the Isle of Mull with partner Sarah Everitt, he was killed in a horror crash at the Mull Rally.

Andy had an infectious personality and had a real zest for life. He realised he had been given a second chance with life and grabbed it, living each day to the full.

Mr Mort, 47, was co-driving alongside rising rally star John MacCrone when they crashed into a field on Saturday. Mr Mort, from Cleveleys, was killed at the scene and Mr MacCrone was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries but is now believed to be stable.

Mr Mort was part of the team at Pro-Tech Performance Motorsports at Clifton Business Park, Clifton, for the last 20 years.

Today, his motorsport team mates spoke of their disbelief at the tragedy.

Allan Durham, partner at Pro-Tech Performance with his son Mark, said: “For the last five years, Andy had been battling leukaemia and had been given the all clear.

“Andy had an infectious personality and had a real zest for life. He realised he had been given a second chance with life and grabbed it, living each day to the full.

“Andy had a home out in Spain and split his time between there and with Sarah in Cleveleys.

“Only two weeks ago, he sold his place in Spain, Sarah sold her home in Cleveleys and they moved to Mull.

“It was a very special place to him as he went rallying there every year and they decided to make it their home.

“Andy was a good friend and a navigator for us and had been involved with our company for the last 20 years.

“My son Mark used to be a rally driver and Andy was his co-driver. When Mark stopped rallying to concentrate on the business, Andy stayed with us and co-drove for other drivers.

“He was supposed to have been co-driving for us this coming weekend in Wales but we have now withdrawn the entry for the car Andy would have been sitting in.

“We are all so devastated and still cannot get our heads around it. We all take part in motorsports and accept the risks involved.

“But you never expect a tragedy like this to happen to one of your own.”

An investigation has been launched following the crash.

The rally was abandoned after the tragedy but thousands of fans and competitors gathered to pay tribute to Mr Mort during an emotional walk on Sunday.

The celebration walk traditionally marks the finale of the event but Mr Mort’s family requested it go ahead as planned to honour him.

Mr Mort, who was originally from Wigan, leaves behind a daughter Olivia and son George who live in Wigan.

Daughter Olivia stated on the Mull Rally Facebook page that she was sorry that she and brother George couldn’t get to Scotland in time to take part in the walk and added: “I hope everyone remembers dad doing what he loved the most.”

The walk was led by a piper and followed by three rally cars and 1,000 people who walked in silence through the streets.

Eight times Mull Rally winner Calum Duffy - a cousin of 26-year-old John MacCrone - read out a poignant poem reflecting on the tragedy.

Andy’s partner Sarah commented on Facebook thanking Calum: “Thank you for what you did today for my Andy, John and the rally family.

“I will be forever grateful to you.”

Allan Durham said Mr Mort had a real passion for motorsports and was thrilled at the opportunity to co-drive with John MacCrone.

He said: “Andy loved rallying so much and was a larger than life character who had so many friends in the world of motorsports.

“He was the type of guy who even when he was going through his cancer was never down and he used to laugh everything off.

“He was an integral part of our team and we are going to miss him so much.”

The car that Andy was co-driving in belonged to Teg Sport in Warton, near Carnforth.

Arron Newby, son of the owner, said: “We are deeply saddened by this gut-wrenching news.

“We spent three days with John and Andy in preparation for the rally.

“When you slap someone on the back saying: ‘Go on lad’, the last thing you expect to hear an hour later is that he’s died.”

A statement from Mull Rally said: “The event organisers and relevant authorities are working closely with Police Scotland to establish precisely what happened.

“Road policing officers have begun an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

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