Launceston navigator lost one of his 'best mates' in Scottsdale rally crash

DEVASTATED: Launceston navigator Keegan Buckley is recovering in hospital after a rally car crash, which killed his driver and friend, Darren Clark. Picture: Scott Gelston
DEVASTATED: Launceston navigator Keegan Buckley is recovering in hospital after a rally car crash, which killed his driver and friend, Darren Clark. Picture: Scott Gelston

“Why not me?”          

That was the devastating question Launceston navigator Keegan Buckley was asking himself after surviving a crash that killed one of his best mates.

Mr Buckley and his driver, Darren Clark, were racing in the Scottsdale Classic Rally on Saturday when tragedy struck after the car hit a tree stump.

Mr Buckley, 33, escaped the crash with multiple fractures but Mr Clark, 49, died at the scene.

Speaking from the Launceston General Hospital on Wednesday, he described the heartbreaking moment he learned his friend had been killed - he said he was "absolutely devastated".

"I thought to myself this can't be real," he said.

"It was devastating. I have been in motor sport for many years, I've signed disclaimers to say it’s dangerous and I've even said to my parents 'look if I die rallying, I died happy', but I never ever thought I would be the surviving member of the team.

“To lose Darren and be here and have him not be here, it really tears me up inside.”

Unable to recall details of the crash, he said he was "still coming to grips with what happened".

"I remember the start of the stage, I remember cruising through it but I dont remember the actual incident," he said.

Mr Buckley said in the first 24 to 48 hours he even started to question why he had survived and Mr Clark had not.

"I thought well why not me? I'm not married, I don't have kids ... why not me?" he said.

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Mr Clark leaves behind his wife, Theresa and son, Stuart.

"Theresa said to me 'Keegs, please don't ever give up doing what you love' and right about then I felt like saying there is nothing more to rally for, nothing more to fight for, he's the only person I want to rally with," he said.

"We have had great fun and doing that with someone else now just seems like second best." 

The driving duo had been rallying together for nearly four years and had gone from being a navigator and his driver to two best friends.

"I've lost one of my best mates, he was just too good to go that way,” Mr Buckley said.

"He just always had a smile on his face, he was always there to help. He was just always on top of his game whether he was sailing or racing … he never talked himself up he just enjoyed what he did and was really good at it.”

Since the tragic crash, family, friends and members of the motor sport community have united to support Mr Buckley and Mr Clark’s wife and son. 

“That support to me means more than all the money in the world,” Mr Buckley said.

Tributes continue to flow for Mr Clark.