Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland set to host World Superbike round as early as 2019

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland will host a round of the World Superbike Championship for the first time at a new race-track currently under construction in Coalisland.

The Lake Torrent Circuit will cost around £30 million and could be ready to host a round of the series as early as next year as part of what is a confirmed three year deal, agreed between track developer Manna Developments and the Dorna WSBK Organization.

The event could give current three-time World champion Jonathan Rea the opportunity to race in his home country, a prospect he wholeheartedly welcomes.

“I’m so excited about this news because motorcycling in Northern Ireland has a huge heritage, right through from Joey Dunlop to myself and Eugene Laverty," he said.

“I’m very curious to see how the track is going to look, but I’m sure it will be very well attended because the fans over there love their bikes.  I can’t wait to get the chance to go there in 2019, and it’s an incredible way to nurture young talent.  I can’t wait to be involved and to fly the flag for Northern Ireland in this new adventure, and it would be nice to create a circuit that many people talk about as the best in the world.”

Designed by award-winning motorsport track designers Driven International, the development of Lake Torrent will transform 163 acres of former clay pits into a world class 2.2 mile racing circuit. The track will feature 12 corners with a width of 12-15m and elevations of +/-30m, accompanied by full supporting facilities.

It is estimated to create 700 jobs in the 18 month construction phase, with longer term plans to build a further 90 retail and business units around the circuit.

David Henderson of Manna Developments added:  “For the past 15 years it has been a dream of mine to build a motor racing circuit that incorporates the feel of the road with the safety of an international standard track – and also to bring the World Superbike Championship to Northern Ireland.

“Having finally identified the perfect location and achieved planning permission last year, today sees the completion of that dream and is a day that will only be topped when we see tens of thousands  of spectators converge in Coalisland for the first WorldSBK racing event in Northern Ireland.  They really don’t come much bigger than this.

“This is a historic milestone for the town of Coalisland, the county of Tyrone and indeed for the whole of Northern Ireland as we celebrate the realisation of our vision to create an internationally recognised motorsport arena which will become a venue for regional, national and international competitions for many years to come.”

Now in its 31st season, the championship is contested by 59 teams, visiting 12 countries.  Northern Ireland will join a list of host nations that currently includes Australia, Thailand, Spain, Holland, Italy, England, Czech Republic, USA, Portugal, France, Argentina and Qatar.

Speaking last night at a reception in the Mid Ulster Council offices in Dungannon, WorldSBK Executive Director Daniel Carrera said: “We are delighted to be adding Northern Ireland as a destination for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.  The Lake Torrent circuit is a fantastic project that will deliver a high-class facility for competitors and visitors.  We are proud that Manna Developments and Mid Ulster representatives have chosen WorldSBK as their top event for the international promotion of the circuit and region.

“We know that the proper management of this kind of facility could provide the local community with new opportunities through business, job creation, leisure and tourism.  With the large tradition and culture in motorcycling in Northern Ireland, I am sure that this event could become a reference in our Championship in the near future.”

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