A COMMUNITY gathered to say a tearful goodbye to a powerboat racer who died after a crash in Weymouth Bay.

Friends, family, colleagues and competitors came together yesterday to celebrate the life of Mike Lovell.

Mr Lovell, of Southampton, suffered multiple injuries in the crash during the final race of the P1 SuperStock UK series on September 16 in Weymouth Bay and died later in hospital.

Hundreds of mourners packed into a Southampton church for an emotionally-charged send off.

His navigator, Dan Whapples, who was also seriously injured when the pair were thrown from their boat in the high speed crash, was also well enough to attend.

Those gathered inside St Mary’s Church in Sholing heard a series of tearful tributes to the popular 27-year-old. Mr Lovell’s coffin was escorted to the church from Brookspeed in Bevois Valley, where he worked for five years as a mechanic, by a huge funeral cortege featuring modified cars driven by his friends from the local racing community.

A pair of Ferraris flanked the hearse as it waited outside the garage where his friends and family had gathered.

Amongst those at the funeral were racing driver Dean Stoneman and Shelly Jory-Leigh, former racer who was commentating on the event when Mr Lovell’s accident happened.

Mr Lovell’s family asked for mourners not to wear black, so many of those at the funeral were dressed in their racing uniforms in honour of their fallen rival and friend. Devastated mum Tracy, 48, dressed in red because it was her son’s favourite colour on her.

She said: “He was my rock, the best son anyone could have wanted. Everything he did he put 110 per cent into to make sure everything was correct and everyone was happy.

“He was doing everything he wanted and loved. It was all taken away from him, and I will never understand why.”

Friends said he had ‘lived each day to the full’ and packed more into his 27 years than many manage in a lifetime. They told several stories of fixing cars long into the night with Mr Lovell, racing and joking, and of his infectious smile.

Former boss Martin Braybrook said: “It’s such a shame that he had so much talent and it’s been taken away.

“If I described him as my right-hand man it would not do him justice.”