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Team manager Philip Neill's backing for NW changes

By Paul Lindsay

Published 03/10/2015

Support: Tyco BMW boss Philip Neill on the NW200 grid
Support: Tyco BMW boss Philip Neill on the NW200 grid

The International North West 200’s proposed changes for 2016 have been widely discussed in racing circles in the past 24 hours, with Moneymore based Tyco BMW one team who will welcome the initiatives.

Team manager Philip Neill, who is currently at Silverstone for the penultimate round of the British Superbike Championship, was keen to support Event Director Mervyn Whyte and his NW200 management team.

Neill, whose rider Alastair Seeley this year equalled the late Robert Dunlop’s all-time NW record of 15 wins, said: “In my opinion, reducing the size of the grids at the North West 200 is a major step forward.

“I might not be very popular for saying this, but I believe they need to do away with one complete group or wave of riders.

“At an international road race, two groups of riders on the grid in each race are more than enough. I’m not saying the third group cannot compete at the North West, but why not have a national race for the less experienced riders.”

Pointing out the complexity of running a successful five-race programme on race day Saturday at the North West 200, Neill also welcomed the ‘sighting lap and go’ changes that will be implemented in 2016.

“It’s another great idea from the organisers, providing we don’t have too many laps in a race where fuel consumption becomes a consideration for the likes of the Superstock bikes.”

Explaining his concerns, the TAS Racing man said: “We normally top up fuel at the end of the sighting lap, which is purely precautionary, so there clearly needs to be less laps in the Superstock race as we all run smaller tanks in that class than Superbike.

“Or we look at the tank capacity, just as the TT organisers have done, and allow us to run a 24-litre tank in the Superstock class, which is what I would suggest.”

Neill is also firmly behind the decision to do away with all grid interviews after the sighting lap and the reduction in personnel on the grid.

He said: “Again I completely agree with both of those. There is no need for interviews on the grid once the sighting lap has been completed. For me there should be a protocol where all interviews should be conducted well before the sighting lap starts or once the race is finished.”

On the grid restrictions he concluded: “There are grid restrictions in British Superbike, which we already deal with and it works well all round. Reducing team personnel is fine as long as it is realistic.

“In a normal BSB situation a rider is allocated three technicians and there is maybe an additional tyre or electronics technician for each team. Personally I feel team personnel is not a problem at the North West 200, the main problem comes from too many of the general public on the grid.

“Teams do require a limited number of grid passes for key sponsors. We all need sponsors in the sport to keep it going and as a team we certainly need our sponsors to help fund our efforts — it just needs to be more controlled.”

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