The organisers of the Macau Grand Prix are set to visit the Vauxhall International North West 200 next May. The trip, aimed at building closer co-operation between the two blue riband biking races, was confirmed when NW200 Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, met his Macau counterparts during last weekend's race in China.
"It is great news that a delegation of the Macau organising committee are coming to Northern Ireland for our race next May," Whyte said. "We have been building our contact with the Macau organisers in recent years and this will be their first visit to the North West."
Macau Deputy Clerk of the Course and former MotoGP race director, Paul Butler, echoed Whyte's sentiments.
"Macau is an invitation-only race and we regard experience of racing at the North West 200 as a suitable criteria for entry to our event," he said.
"If riders have competed successfully at the North West we don't have any worries and our trip next May will be a fact-finding mission aimed at strengthening a relationship that we already share."
Accompanying Butler in the Macau delegation during the visit will be Carlos Barreto, the Clerk of the Course for the Macau Grand Prix, Patrick Castro, Track Manager and the President of the Automobile Association of Macau-China, Chong Coc Veng.
The Chinese race is now organised by a government-controlled committee which took over the management of the motorcycle part of the Grand Prix in 2011. Since then they have been building stronger links with other international bike events.
In recent seasons, visits to Macau by Whyte have secured the entry of riders of the quality of Austrian Horst Saiger, the current NW200 Superstock lap record holder, to the north coast event. International Road Racing Series champion Didier Grams from Germany and his Heidger-Motorsport team-mate Marc Fissette have also been recruited through Macau contacts.
Whyte added: "The Macau race has always sought to attract more tourists to visit the city and there is a lot that we can learn from each other about promoting our events to a global audience."