An inquest into the fatal Isle of Man TT Sidecar accident that claimed the life of Cesar Chanal found that the French crew were carrying each other’s dog tags.
On the opening day of racing at the 2022 TT in the first Sidecar contest, the Shock Factory outfit of driver Chanal and his passenger Olivier Lavorel was involved in a serious incident at the Ago’s Leap section.
The incident claimed the life of Chanal, while Lavorel was airlifted to hospital in Liverpool in a critical condition.
It was initially reported that Lavorel had been killed, but on the following Wednesday organisers released a statement confirming the identity of the deceased had been mistaken and it was in fact Chanal who had died.
The inquest into the incident opened on Friday 17 June on the Isle of Man, with Coroner of Inquests Jayne Hughes revealing that the two racers had been found with the other’s identification dog tag.
By TT regulations, all racers must carry an ID tag which must be presented to the scrutineer before a racer can take part in a session.
The inquest heard that Chanal – who died at the scene – and Lavorel were taken to Noble’s Hospital on the island after the incident, with Chanal taken to the mortuary and Lavorel to the emergency department.
According to a Manx Radio report, a mortuary worker stated to the inquest that the racer he oversaw had suffered “catastrophic trauma”.
A dog tag bearing the name Olivier Lavorel was found in the leathers of Chanal, which is why the former was named as the deceased in a statement issued by TT organisers on Saturday 4 June. The inquest also heard that the emergency room had struggled to identify Lavorel due to his injuries and found Chanal’s dog tag in his leathers.
The recovery of one of the racer’s helmets and the reviewing of footage from the crash led to concerns by the TT’s Clerk of the Course over a case of mistaken identity.
Lavorel was flown to hospital in Liverpool, where Chanal’s mother eventually went, only to find her son was not the racer who’d been transferred.
Both racers were finally identified by their hair and their blood types.
A statement from the crew’s mechanic at the inquest said neither had a chain for their tags, hence why they were not around their necks, and says he’s never heard them discuss swapping them.
Mrs Hughes concluded there was not enough evidence to determine why Chanal and Lavorel had swapped dog tags, and called for people not to speculate on social media.
A full inquest into Chanal’s death will now take place at a later date, with his body now released to his family so funeral arrangements can be made.
On Friday 10 June, father and son Sidecar duo Roger and Bradley Stockton were killed in a crash at Ago’s Leap in the second Sidecar race of the week.