I think moving the slower bikes to behind the cars is a mistake. The only thing worse than being passed by a buggy is passing one. Similarly, the only thing worse than being passed by a fast driver is being passed by a slow driver. I think starting slower bikes after all the cars is putting those riders at greater risk than starting them up front.
For those guys in the secondary motorcycle pack, you'll have to treat it like a trail ride, not a competition. Maybe thats fine, but I would be very uncomfortable.
I know less than all of you about the course area in which the incident happened and the people involved, but I would caution us on drawing too many conclusions for a couple reasons.
1) Cars and bikes are faster and slow in different areas.
2) There is going to be an accordion effect when the terrain goes from flat out to slow and rocky.
3) If a rider or driver has his ear plugs in and his race face on, he may not know you're there until you're very close. I don't care how loud your horn is, I won't be able to hear it when you're 100 yards behind me.
4) If the rider doesn't know you are there or doesn't let you past, you're going to have to get pretty close to them to take advantage of the terrain when it does open up, especially when it is a slower accelerating car passing a faster accelerating bike.
This has nothing to do with the people involved or what really happened, but you can imagine a truck catching up to a bike, trying to get close enough to get their attention right as the terrain changes compounded by a bike having a problem and what you're left with is a terrible, terrible accident.
I feel really sad and disappointed about what happened and there are definitely things NORRA can do to improve the safety, but you can't remove all of the risk and I don't suggest they dramatically reinvent the format to try and do so.
A couple things that might help:
1) Make sure the cars have extremely loud horns. If the bikes are starting behind the cars, make sure they have extremely loud horns.
2) Throw anyone out of the race for passing a bike close or any contact with another vehicle. I mean anyone. All the bikes and cars could be required to carry GoPro cameras and expected to report anything unsafe.
3) Throw anyone out of the race for not letting someone pass them as soon as it is safe. Use the cameras.
Ride safe everyone. I hope to see you all next year.