Parts from £150k bikes stolen from top NI race team are recovered, but much remains missing
Police have found parts of £150,000 worth of motorbikes - which had included one ridden by racing superstar Guy Martin - after they were stolen from Co Londonderry-based team last year.
The four Tyco BMW race bikes were taken from the hugely-successful Moneymore team TAS Racing from a Premier Inn car park near the NEC exhibition centre in Birmingham, back in November.
It's one of the most successful teams in road racing history, and is owned and run by father and son pairing Hector and Philip Neill.
The estimated financial loss to the team is in excess of £150,000, which team manager Philip Neill described as having a profound effect on him and his father, in the days that followed their theft.
"It hit me very hard at the time. I have to be honest," Mr Neill said.
"This is not a normal business we work in. I had this misguided belief that we would never be open to that. But you learn your lessons hard.
"Had this been the early days, when we were starting out with no manufacturer and sponsorship support, the team could have been finished.
"We are operating at a professional level nowadays and part of that requirement means we are structured as a business, so we do expect to be covered for the loss financially, but it doesn't take that invasive feeling away from you."
The parts which have been returned to the team are worth just £10,000, and the majority of the bikes remain missing.
In a statement, TAS Racing said: "Since the theft two arrests have been made, thanks to information provided by genuine race fans, and these individuals are currently on police bail.
"This has proved vital in allowing police to pursue the case, which has subsequently allowed the authorities to recover parts, which were removed from the stolen Tyco BMW S1000RR Superbike that Christian Iddon rode during the 2016 British Superbike campaign.
"We cannot emphasise enough how vital this information has been, and while we are grateful for the support, if anyone anywhere has even the smallest piece of information, we would urge them to contact police immediately.
"We believe all four race bikes are still in the UK and further information from you, the general public, is again vital, if police are to further their investigation and recover more parts or complete bikes".
The stolen race bikes included a 2015 Guy Martin S1000RR Superbike that he rode at the Isle of Man TT, and Christian Iddon's 2016 British Superbike.
Motorcycle racer Martin (35) is a familiar face on Ulster roads, as well as on our television screens on shows such as Speed with Guy Martin.
Both Martin and the Neills have a long TT heritage.