Powerboat racer William Nocker killed in west Africa crash

William Nocker
Image caption Mr Nocker was travelling at 120 mph

A powerboat racer from Gloucestershire has been killed in a high speed crash in west Africa.

William Nocker, 47, of Cheltenham, died after his boat flipped on the water during the Gabon Grand Prix, witnesses said.

Mr Nocker was taken to a military hospital in Gabon's capital city Libreville but doctors were unable to resuscitate him.

His co-driver, Norwegian Kurt Olsen, is "critical" in intensive care.

Five-year suspension

No other drivers were involved in the crash on Friday, which appeared to happen after Mr Nocker's boat hit two waves, witnesses said.

Race promoters H20 Racing said contact had been made with Mr Nocker's father Bill and brother James following the accident.

Mr Nocker was returning to the sport following a five-year suspension after he was found guilty of tampering with a competitor's fuel supply.

A tribunal upheld charges of gross misconduct and unsportsmanlike behaviour against Mr Nocker and fellow racer Rob Lister after it was alleged water was poured into the tank of a rival boat during the Liverpool Powerboat Grand Prix in 2006.

Mr Nocker, originally from Tiverton, Devon, was racing for the Welmax Offshore Racing team at the event in Gabon.

Event abandoned

The race, the second round of the Class 1 world offshore championship, was immediately stopped following the accident as safety teams rushed to attend to the injured crew at the scene.

As a mark of respect organisers cancelled the next day's second round before abandoning the event completely.

The sport's governing body, Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), has launched an investigation into the cause of the crash and plans to inspect the boat's wreckage.

Gabon's Prime Minister Ndong Sima joined racing teams as they returned to the crash site to pay tribute to Mr Nocker.

They held a minute's silence and laid a wreath on the water while competitors and team members scattered flowers.