Ulster Grand Prix washed out
Published 18/08/2008 | 09:23
The torrential rain led to many sporting events across the province being cancelled or postponed.
The biggest casualty was the Ulster Grand Prix on Saturday — called off for the first time in its history at Dundrod.
It has left the organisers with a huge deficit and the future of the long-standing meeting — a highlight in the road-racing calendar — in jeopardy.
Clerk of the course Noel Johnston said: “We held off as long as possible. But at the end of the day the weather beat us. We tried every avenue and postponement possible and only made our decision to abandon at the last minute.”
Eric Oliver, chairman of the Ulster Centre, said: “It’s a great pity for the Dundrod Club, who had put so much effort into the meeting. However, from early morning it had been expected that the meeting would be off.
“There had been weather forecasts giving us a bit of hope but as the day went on it was obvious that we were whistling in the dark.
“Under the current regulations we are unable to hold the meeting on Sunday and so the Ulster Grand Prix has been lost.”
The last time that the meeting ended so disastrously was in 1987 when one race was held before the Formula One round had to be called off following the death of rider Klaus Klein.
Guy Martin, who won four races at the meeting two years ago, and was successful last year, said: “I would have raced had the conditions relented but there was no way that was possible. It’s a great pity for the promoters and the crowd. Many of them were still in the stands hoping for racing to start.”
William Dunlop, son of the late Robert Dunlop, said: “It is all all very sad but I wouldn’t have raced in those conditions.”
His brother Michael said: “I was prepared to race but obviously the visibility made this a dodgy move. I’m shattered that the meeting has been abandoned for I was really looking forward to it.”
Martin Lindsay, editor of the Belfast Telegraph — one of the main sponsors of the UGP — said: “We fully support the UGP’s decision to abandon the planned race programme due to the horrendous weather conditions.
“The safety of riders and spectators is paramount and the clerk of course cannot take any unnecessary risks.”
The weather also played havoc with the JJB Irish League programme on Saturday. Only one match — Institute versus Cliftonville — was concluded. Three matches were abandoned and two others postponed.
The Irish Cup semi-finals in bowls were scrapped as was the entire cricket programme and greyhound racing at Drumbo.