Petrol heads and motorcycle maniacs once again hit Ulster’s north coast in force yesterday for the second practice day of the North West 200.
But some were left disappointed after the poor weather which has hit the province in recent days meant the practice sessions had to be called off due to rain and lack of light.
The session got off to a dry start with times coming in an average six seconds faster, but after the second practice race of the evening the rain arrived in Portrush, and soon made its way across the whole of the course.
The biking extravaganza regularly attracts crowds of up to 150,000 along its route, which stretches from Portrush to Portstewart and Coleraine.
The famous ‘triangle circuit’ is regarded as one of the fastest in the world. Just four years ago the fastest speed of the event — 201.1mph — was recorded by racer Michael Rutter.
Practice sessions were held on Tuesday for the race, with riders and racers from around the world putting their bikes through their paces in preparation for the big showdown this weekend.
But prayers are still being said for racer John Anderton (29), who last night remained in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of Royal Victoria Hospital after a horrific high-speed crash on Tuesday.
The father-of-one came off his bike as he was exiting Station Corner in Portstewart heading |towards Black Bridge during the final 600cc qualifying.
With thousands of people |expected to brave the wet weather forecast for the weekend, organisers of the event have launched a new tourism campaign to encourage visitors to extend their stay and boost the economic benefits to the area.
The event began life under the City of Derry and District Motor Club following its formation in the early 1920s. With the hope of forming a big event to showcase the sport it was suggested that a 200 mile road race be organised. From this developed the race around the circuit covering the triangle of Coleraine, Portstewart and Portrush. The first race took place on Saturday, April 20, 1929.