NW200 seeks new sponsor as deal ends
North West 200 organisers have moved to clarify the reason they are searching for a new sponsor for their 90th anniversary next year.
After five years as headline sponsor, Vauxhall Motors UK have stepped away, leading to speculation a recent series of road racing rider fatalities had influenced the decision.
However, both Vauxhall and the North West have confirmed their contract agreement ended as scheduled with this year’s races in May — before the tragic loss of William Dunlop at Skerries, Dan Kneen, James Cowton and Adam Lyon on the Isle of Man and Fabrice Miguet at last week’s Ulster Grand Prix.
Vauxhall also ended their backing of the four football Home Nations last month.
North West event director Mervyn Whyte explained: “Vauxhall began as a race sponsor in 2013 and then took over the title sponsorship 12 months later. The original deal was for a three-year period but such was the success of the partnership, it was extended for another two years.
“We have obviously been fully aware that the Vauxhall contract was ending in 2018 and discussions are already underway with several interested parties. 2019 and our 90th anniversary is a landmark occasion for the North West 200 and we are now looking forward to celebrating it with new commercial partners.”
Mervyn added: “We have enjoyed a strong relationship with Vauxhall and are very grateful for the support we have received from them and would like to put on record our sincerest thanks.”
Whyte revealed his team have begun negotiations with several major companies as prospective replacements for the title sponsorship role.
A statement from Vauxhall HQ yesterday added: “As with any type of sponsorship that Vauxhall takes on, we constantly evaluate its value to the business, as market trends and our customer base change from year to year.
“In the case of both the North Wes 200 and Four Nations (which finished last month), we’ve decided to research fresh sponsorship opportunities, which may put us before new audiences.
“This is the only reason we’ve opted to withdraw our sponsorship from North West 200.”
With the North West estimated by an economic impact survey to be worth £9.8m to the local economy and, with global TV coverage attracting a new sponsor should not be a major problem.
With regard to the Vauxhall sponsorship of the Northern Ireland football team, the Irish FA, like the North West 200 organisers, are actively seeking new backers.
The association aim to have a new commercial partner on board for the Euro 2010 qualifiers.In the meantime, the IFA will support the Cancer Fund for Children as part of a fundraising drive to get £50,000 for the charity.