The first major road race in more than two years is set to go ahead this spring with the North West 200 taking centre stage on the north coast in May.
Last held in 2019, Northern Ireland’s biggest motorcycle meeting was wiped out for two consecutive seasons after the coronavirus pandemic struck, decimating the road racing calendar in 2020 and 2021.
Today’s announcement will come as a welcome boost for race-starved fans and a shot in the arm for the Northern Ireland economy, with the sporting showpiece, set for May 10-14, generating around £12million for the tourism and hospitality industry.
All of road racing’s big guns are expected to return to the 8.9-mile Triangle course, which links the towns of Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine.
Carrick’s Alastair Seeley will be chasing a milestone 25th victory, with top names such as Michael Dunlop, Lee Johnston, John McGuinness, Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison and Glenn Irwin all gearing up to battle it out for the spoils .
The news comes after last week’s announcement that the biggest road race of them all — the Isle of Man TT — is also on course to return in June after a two-year absence. Entries for the iconic Manx event are now open, with the two-week festival slated to run from May 29 until June 10.
But first, all eyes will be on the North West in four months’ time as the leading TT exponents warm up for their return to the 37.73-mile Mountain Course.
Stanleigh Murray, NW200 Clerk of Course and chairman of the organising Coleraine and District Motor Club, said the management team has been working tirelessly since the initial cancellation in 2020 to ensure the return of the prestigious race.
Murray also welcomed the news that fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils would continue as joint title sponsors this year.
“Although the pandemic stopped the race action over the past two seasons, the management team of Coleraine and District Motor Club have been working hard to ensure the structures and support that underpin the North West 200 have remained in place for the day when we would be able make this announcement,” said Murray.
“We are delighted to have retained the support of our loyal title sponsors; to have the backing of fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils — two of the Province’s leading companies — gives us confidence as we plan the return of one of Northern Ireland’s major sporting attractions.”
The North West 200 will be the first major road race to take place since the Macau Grand Prix in 2019.