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Enniskillen Road Races are called off as crisis deepens

 

Lasting memory: Forest Dunn celebrates winning the Richard Britton Memorial feature Superbike race at the 2019 Enniskillen Road Races with runner up Thomas Maxwell and third placed Kevin Fitzpatrick
Lasting memory: Forest Dunn celebrates winning the Richard Britton Memorial feature Superbike race at the 2019 Enniskillen Road Races with runner up Thomas Maxwell and third placed Kevin Fitzpatrick
Top course: Gary Dunlop at Enniskillen Road Races

By Roy Harris

The Enniskillen Road Races will not take place next year the club has officially announced.

In a statement the Enniskillen Club Directors said: "The decision has been taken solely by the club following discussions with members that have spanned several months.

"After many years of hard work and two successful road race events the club has decided that it is no longer feasible to carry on with Enniskillen Road Races in 2020.

"We have worked hard to try and make this event work but unfortunately, for several reasons, some beyond our control, we now feel that we are unable to run the event next year."

The statement continued: "The cost of running a road race is high and despite our best efforts to try and keep costs down we have found that excessive cost and logistics of hiring safety equipment such as safety bales, rising medical costs etc along with the fact that a trend of spectators choosing not to contribute by buying a programme or contributing towards the event means that not only Enniskillen, but the sport in general, is suffering, something clubs cannot sustain in the long run.

"Recent laying of water mains that have taken place on the circuit has not helped with the impact on the surface and it may not pass the roads inspection team, not due to look at the track until the beginning of 2020, while the Department of Infrastructure are unable to give a commitment regarding improvements."

The club have proved they are well capable of running a road race and after a 66-year absence brought back the Enniskillen Road Races onto the calendar.

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Continuing to seek an alternative circuit with lower running costs, the club does not rule out the possibility of another Co Fermanagh road race in the future.

The club will continue to promote their Ulster Superbike Championship short circuit round at St Angelo, which next year is scheduled on June 27 and 28.

Derek McGee was the star of the 2018 Enniskillen Road Race revival taking five wins including the Richard Britton Memorial race, while this year Cornwall's Forest Dunn took the feature race to make it a Superbike double on the day.

A serious incident in the Senior Support race left Kevin Baker with serious injuries from which he is now fully recovered after a trip to the Royal Victoria Hospital in the Air Ambulance.

Gary Dunlop, the Irish Moto3 Road Race champion and winner at Enniskillen, said: "It's a pity Enniskillen won't run in 2020. I loved the three-mile Arney course, it had everything a road racer would want - bumps, jumps, fast corners, tight corners and probably the best s-bend I've ridden around.

"It's a real shame for the club members, who put so much effort into making the race happen.

"When it comes back, I'll definitely be involved again," added Dunlop.

Richard Britton Memorial race winner Dunn said: "It's a complete and utter shame to be losing the Enniskillen Road Races.

"It's an awesome circuit and I'm truly saddened to be losing the only road race I've made it to the top step on!

"It was a step forward to bring a new circuit onto the calendar, but unfortunately we seem to be going backwards again with this news and the Ulster Grand Prix doubt," he added, referring to the Dundrod event's financial issues.

With the MCUI (UC) AGM today in Coleraine, surely the alarm bells must be ringing loud as to the future of our historic and world-renowned pure road races that have survived since 1921.

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