The WA motorsport community is mourning the death of a respected motocross rider who was killed after falling from his motorcycle during the Australasian Safari yesterday.
Father-of-two Ivan Erceg, 41, died after falling off his bike during the first stage of yesterday's off-road race, 50km east of Minilya Roadhouse, near Carnarvon, about 9.30am.
Yesterday's leg of the event was cancelled while police investigated on behalf of the Coroner. The event will continue today.
Mr Erceg's close friend Paul Varasdi said the motocross community had lost a talented rider whom other competitors looked up to. The pair had planned to start a desert series for motocross competitors in WA.
"He's a bit of a father figure to be honest, everyone's heard of him," Mr Varasdi said. "He's the most colourful, vibrant, fun-loving character. He and I pretty much started the Desert Motorcycle Club. We had some big plans."
Mr Varasdi said Mr Erceg was aware of the risks associated with motocross but had a "live life to the full" attitude.
"We know it's a dangerous sport and it's not what anyone wants to hear. I'd like to say it won't happen again . . . it can happen," he said.
Online posts paid tribute to a "safari legend" and "one of the most respected desert racers Australia-wide". They also acknowledged his "pride and joy" in being a father to two girls.
Competitor Garth Roberts posted online that he saw Mr Erceg after he crashed about 50km into the race.
“i got there not long after the crash...can’t even say how you feel just scary seeing him lying there (sic),” he said on Facebook.
Mr Erceg is survived by his daughters and his long-term partner Hazel, who the motorcycle club hoped to band together to support.
He said Mr Erceg was a keen fisherman and recently returned from Costa Rica, where he competed in the World Fishing Championships. He juggled his hobbies with a concreting business, which he ran from Perth.
Quad bike rider John Maragozidis said Mr Erceg's death would come as a shock to many.
"It is very rare for someone to die racing," he said.
The death comes after another accident at the Australasian Safari track this week. On Monday, a 48-year-old motorcyclist was taken to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service with serious chest injuries. He was in a stable condition last night.
Event director Justin Hunt said Mr Erceg was a true competitor who loved the mateship associated with competition.
"We extend our sincerest sympathies to Ivan's family, team members and friends at this time," he said.
Organisers are co-operating with Motorcycling Australia, which is investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Erceg's death.