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North West 200 race day: Gary Johnston cheers up a deflated crowd

North West 200 race day: Gary Johnston cheers up a deflated crowd

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st  May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Race winner  Alastair Seeley Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing (No 34) gets the 'holeshot' from Gary Johnson (No12), Ryan Farquhar KMR Kawasaki (No 77) and Michael Dunlop Street Sweep Kawasaki (No4)  during  the Supersport 600cc race 1 at Saturday's  North West 200.

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Race winner Alastair Seeley Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing (No 34) gets the 'holeshot' from Gary Johnson (No12), Ryan Farquhar KMR Kawasaki (No 77) and Michael Dunlop Street Sweep Kawasaki (No4) during the Supersport 600cc race 1 at Saturday's North West 200.

Brian Little

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Police officers search the paddock area after receiving a warning that a device had been left.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Police officers search the paddock area after receiving a warning that a device had been left.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Police officers search the paddock area after receiving a warning that a device had been left.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Police officers search the paddock area after receiving a warning that a device had been left.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Police officers search the paddock area after receiving a warning that a device had been left.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Police officers search the paddock area after receiving a warning that a device had been left.

Suzuki's Alistair Seeley

Suzuki's Alistair Seeley

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 21/5/2011: NW 200 supremo Mervyn Whyte looks on as marshals struggle in vain to clean up the oil slick left by Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki after his engine blew up in the Superbike race at the  2011 Relentless North West 200 today. The meeting was abandoned.PICTURE BY CLIFFORD MCLEAN

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 21/5/2011: NW 200 supremo Mervyn Whyte looks on as marshals struggle in vain to clean up the oil slick left by Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki after his engine blew up in the Superbike race at the 2011 Relentless North West 200 today. The meeting was abandoned.PICTURE BY CLIFFORD MCLEAN

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 21/5/2011: Guy Martin and Michael Rutter discuss the proceedings as the 2011 Relentless North West 200 was abandoned today after being hit by a bomb scare, heavy rain and an oil spill.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 21/5/2011: Guy Martin and Michael Rutter discuss the proceedings as the 2011 Relentless North West 200 was abandoned today after being hit by a bomb scare, heavy rain and an oil spill.PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Chris Brownlow, Peter Sykes, Ron Brownlow and Ellen Sykes.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Chris Brownlow, Peter Sykes, Ron Brownlow and Ellen Sykes.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Ian Paisley Jr along  withJoan Burney.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Ian Paisley Jr along withJoan Burney.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Brian Galbrath, Karen Henderson and Jim Henderson.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Brian Galbrath, Karen Henderson and Jim Henderson.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Maria Pearice, Adrian Logan, Jill Browne and Karen Marshell.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Maria Pearice, Adrian Logan, Jill Browne and Karen Marshell.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Angie and Thomas Dougherty.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Angie and Thomas Dougherty.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Chris Brownlow, Peter Sykes, Ron Brownlow and Ellen Sykes.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Chris Brownlow, Peter Sykes, Ron Brownlow and Ellen Sykes.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Gary Watton, Anna Hegerty, Jenny Mairs and Emma McCreadie.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Gary Watton, Anna Hegerty, Jenny Mairs and Emma McCreadie.

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st  May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Heavy rain and an oil spill caused difficult conditions which resulted in the postponement of racing during  Saturday's  North West 200.

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Heavy rain and an oil spill caused difficult conditions which resulted in the postponement of racing during Saturday's North West 200.

Brian Little

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st  May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Michael Dunlop Street Sweep Kawasaki (No 4) leads through the spray from Gary Johnston Honda (No12) , Ryan Farquhar KMR Kawasaki (No77) diuring Saturday's  North West 200.

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Michael Dunlop Street Sweep Kawasaki (No 4) leads through the spray from Gary Johnston Honda (No12) , Ryan Farquhar KMR Kawasaki (No77) diuring Saturday's North West 200.

Brian Little

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st  May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Mervyn Whyte faced tough decisions due to weather, bomb scares and oil on the track which lead to long delays.

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Mervyn Whyte faced tough decisions due to weather, bomb scares and oil on the track which lead to long delays.

Brian Little

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st  May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Heavy rain dampen spirits  of spectators in the start/finish  Grandstand during Saturday's  North West 200.

Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 21st May 2011Mandatory Credit - Photo Brian LittleRelentless North West 200Heavy rain dampen spirits of spectators in the start/finish Grandstand during Saturday's North West 200.

Brian Little

©GARETH IRVINE / Presseye.com - 21st May 2011Elevator - Tayto Rough Cuts - Northwest 2011Claire Sergeant, Charlene McClean Miss North West, Helen May, Jade WarwickMandatory Credit - Photo by: GARETH IRVINE / Presseye.com Press Eye office contact informationPress Eye office - 02890 669229Kelvin Boyes mobile - 07850 334 365mail@presseye.com

©GARETH IRVINE / Presseye.com - 21st May 2011Elevator - Tayto Rough Cuts - Northwest 2011Claire Sergeant, Charlene McClean Miss North West, Helen May, Jade WarwickMandatory Credit - Photo by: GARETH IRVINE / Presseye.com Press Eye office contact informationPress Eye office - 02890 669229Kelvin Boyes mobile - 07850 334 365mail@presseye.com

© Gareth Irvine / Presseye

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey celebrates success  in the Supersport 600 race.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey celebrates success in the Supersport 600 race.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.BSB start John Brooks.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.BSB start John Brooks.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Guy Martin.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Guy Martin.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Micahael Dunlop.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Micahael Dunlop.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Supersport 600 race winner Alastair Seeley along with Bruce Anstey and cameron Donald.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Supersport 600 race winner Alastair Seeley along with Bruce Anstey and cameron Donald.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey celebrates success  in the Supersport 600 race.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey celebrates success in the Supersport 600 race.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Supersport 600 race winner Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Supersport 600 race winner Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Cameron donald celebrates success  in the Supersport 600 race.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Cameron donald celebrates success in the Supersport 600 race.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Supersport 600 race winner Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Supersport 600 race winner Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Cameron Donald.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Cameron Donald.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Alastair Seeley.

Alastair Seeley

Alastair Seeley

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.the one and only winner at the 2011 North West 200 carrick man Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.the one and only winner at the 2011 North West 200 carrick man Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.the one and only winner at the 2011 North West 200 carrick man Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.the one and only winner at the 2011 North West 200 carrick man Alastair Seeley.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Daniel Day-Lewis takes some time out to enjoy the races.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Daniel Day-Lewis takes some time out to enjoy the races.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey along with Guy Martin and Technical director Mervyn Whyte MBE.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Bruce Anstey along with Guy Martin and Technical director Mervyn Whyte MBE.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Riders who decided not to race watch the racing live on the big screen.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Riders who decided not to race watch the racing live on the big screen.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Adrian Archibald.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Adrian Archibald.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Guy Martin who decided not to race.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Guy Martin who decided not to race.

Michael Dunlop gives Ryan Farquhar a lift

Michael Dunlop gives Ryan Farquhar a lift

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Ian Lougher.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Ian Lougher.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Guy Martin.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Guy Martin.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Paul and Stephen Henderson.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.Paul and Stephen Henderson.

Relentless North West 200. Cat has nine lives..... Adam Child Suzuki from Hook England has a narrow escape during  Thursday Supersport  practice

Relentless North West 200. Cat has nine lives..... Adam Child Suzuki from Hook England has a narrow escape during Thursday Supersport practice

Brian Little

Adrian Archibald  -  Supersport, North West 200 May 2011

Adrian Archibald - Supersport, North West 200 May 2011

Rowland White/Presseye

Ian Hutchinson, North West 200 May 2011

Ian Hutchinson, North West 200 May 2011

Suzuki Team boss Hector Neil in the North West 200 padock.

Suzuki Team boss Hector Neil in the North West 200 padock.

Guy Martin, North West 200 May 2011

Guy Martin, North West 200 May 2011

Practice day 2, North West 200 May 2011

Practice day 2, North West 200 May 2011

Ian Hutchinson, North West 200 May 2011

Ian Hutchinson, North West 200 May 2011

Cameron Donald, North West 200 May 2011

Cameron Donald, North West 200 May 2011

Gary Mason and Philip McCallum, North West 200 May 2011

Gary Mason and Philip McCallum, North West 200 May 2011

Mark Jamison, North West 200 May 2011

Mark Jamison, North West 200 May 2011

John Burrows and William Dunlop, North West 200 May 2011

John Burrows and William Dunlop, North West 200 May 2011

Ryan Farquhar

Ryan Farquhar

Denver Robb, North West 200 May 2011

Denver Robb, North West 200 May 2011

Adrian Archibald, North West 200 May 2011

Adrian Archibald, North West 200 May 2011

Alastair Seeley, North West 200 May 2011

Alastair Seeley, North West 200 May 2011

Josh Brooks, North West 200 May 2011

Josh Brooks, North West 200 May 2011

Philip Neil, North West 200 May 2011

Philip Neil, North West 200 May 2011

Technical Director Mervyn Whyte, North West 200 May 2011

Technical Director Mervyn Whyte, North West 200 May 2011

Alastair Seeley, North West 200 May 2011

Alastair Seeley, North West 200 May 2011

Guy Martin, North West 200 May 2011

Guy Martin, North West 200 May 2011

William Dunlop, North West 200 May 2011

William Dunlop, North West 200 May 2011

Cameron Donald

Cameron Donald

Cameron Donald  -  Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Cameron Donald - Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Rowland White/Presseye

Michael Rutter - Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Michael Rutter - Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Rowland White/Presseye

Ian Lougher  -  Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Ian Lougher - Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Rowland White/Presseye

Fabrice Miguet leading Paul Cranston - Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Fabrice Miguet leading Paul Cranston - Superbike, North West 200 May 2011

Rowland White/Presseye

Gary Mason and Stuart Easton

Gary Mason and Stuart Easton

19.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDFEATURE ON THE NORTH WEST 200 ROAD RACE PRACTICE YESTERDAY IN PORTRUSH - JAMIE MCDOWELL STORY. People watching the race from the stands

19.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDFEATURE ON THE NORTH WEST 200 ROAD RACE PRACTICE YESTERDAY IN PORTRUSH - JAMIE MCDOWELL STORY. People watching the race from the stands

Simona Zaccardi, one of the only women racers from Italy working on her bike

Simona Zaccardi, one of the only women racers from Italy working on her bike

Rachel Vauls a local with friends Emma Sulway and Vick Morris from London

Rachel Vauls a local with friends Emma Sulway and Vick Morris from London

Michael Rutter

Michael Rutter

Michael Rutter, North West 200 May 2011

Michael Rutter, North West 200 May 2011

Hundreds of Motorcyclists arrive on the Stena Caledonia Ferry  at Belfast Harbour to watch the North West 200 May 2011

Hundreds of Motorcyclists arrive on the Stena Caledonia Ferry at Belfast Harbour to watch the North West 200 May 2011

Gary Mason and Stuart Easton, North West 200 May 2011

Gary Mason and Stuart Easton, North West 200 May 2011

Patrick Douglas (local), North West 200 May 2011

Patrick Douglas (local), North West 200 May 2011

Simona Zaccardi, one of the only women racers from Italy working on her bike, Norrth West 200 May 2011

Simona Zaccardi, one of the only women racers from Italy working on her bike, Norrth West 200 May 2011

A girl watches on at North West 200 May 2011

A girl watches on at North West 200 May 2011

Locals Alistair Purvis and Keith Fotheringham and John Mitchell from Manchester enjoy an ice cream, North West 200 May 2011

Locals Alistair Purvis and Keith Fotheringham and John Mitchell from Manchester enjoy an ice cream, North West 200 May 2011

Gary Van Marsdyke, Gary Von Drummel, Franz Fleuren and Randy Van Marsdyke from Netherlands, North West 200 May 2011

Gary Van Marsdyke, Gary Von Drummel, Franz Fleuren and Randy Van Marsdyke from Netherlands, North West 200 May 2011

Adrian and Laura McGowan with son T.J and daughter Shannon with Rachel Stephenson and Mark Eccles, North West 200 May 2011

Adrian and Laura McGowan with son T.J and daughter Shannon with Rachel Stephenson and Mark Eccles, North West 200 May 2011

Paul Cruickshank and Edward Phillips from Derry, North West 200 May 2011

Paul Cruickshank and Edward Phillips from Derry, North West 200 May 2011

Nadine Walker with kids Chenai and Regan with her friend Karen Kelly and her son Nathaniel, North West 200 2011

Nadine Walker with kids Chenai and Regan with her friend Karen Kelly and her son Nathaniel, North West 200 2011

Joe and Sue Pilmore, Charlie and Karen Tomlinson from Derbyshire, North West 200 May 2011

Joe and Sue Pilmore, Charlie and Karen Tomlinson from Derbyshire, North West 200 May 2011

Relentless International North West 200. Irish road racer Kirk Jamison.

Relentless International North West 200. Irish road racer Kirk Jamison.

Take that!  They might be brothers but there is intense rivalry between William Dunlop and his brother Michael, even if its only on the dodgems at Barry's in Portrush.

Take that! They might be brothers but there is intense rivalry between William Dunlop and his brother Michael, even if its only on the dodgems at Barry's in Portrush.

He's after you! They might be brothers but there is intense rivalry between William Dunlop and his brother Michael, even if its only on the dodgems at Barry's in Portrush!

He's after you! They might be brothers but there is intense rivalry between William Dunlop and his brother Michael, even if its only on the dodgems at Barry's in Portrush!

Three year old Alfie Orr from Kells met his hero Bruce Anstey  at Coleraine Town Hall this morning at a 'Meet the Fans' event ahead of Saturday's Relentless North West 200.

Three year old Alfie Orr from Kells met his hero Bruce Anstey at Coleraine Town Hall this morning at a 'Meet the Fans' event ahead of Saturday's Relentless North West 200.

Newly crowned Miss North West 200 Jade Toner from Limavady was on the beach at Portrush

Newly crowned Miss North West 200 Jade Toner from Limavady was on the beach at Portrush

Kirk Jamison BMW during Tuesday night  Superstock  practice for the North West 200.

Kirk Jamison BMW during Tuesday night Superstock practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

Relentless International North West 200. Miss North West 2011 Jade Toner along with and Lee Johnston from East Coast Racing.

Relentless International North West 200. Miss North West 2011 Jade Toner along with and Lee Johnston from East Coast Racing.

 Relentless International North West 200.Irish road racer Kirk Jamison.

Relentless International North West 200.Irish road racer Kirk Jamison.

North West 200 practice night. Superbike practice session. Alastair Seeley

North West 200 practice night. Superbike practice session. Alastair Seeley

Alastair Seeley

Alastair Seeley

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Gary Mason.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Gary Mason.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Michael Dunlop.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Michael Dunlop.

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Guy Martin. 17th May 2011

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Guy Martin. 17th May 2011

Michael Dunlop Street Sweep Kawasaki at Blacks hill during  17th May 2011 Superbike practice for the North West 200.

Michael Dunlop Street Sweep Kawasaki at Blacks hill during 17th May 2011 Superbike practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Michael Dunlop.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Michael Dunlop.

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Alastair Seeley. 17th May 2011

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Alastair Seeley. 17th May 2011

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.William Dunlop Wilson Craig Racing honda.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.William Dunlop Wilson Craig Racing honda.

Alastair Seeley

Alastair Seeley

Guy Martin Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing at Blacks Hill during 17th May 2011 Superbike  practice for the North West 200.

Guy Martin Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing at Blacks Hill during 17th May 2011 Superbike practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

Alastair Seeley Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing setting the fastest Superbike time of 119mph during 17th May 2011 practice for the North West 200.

Alastair Seeley Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing setting the fastest Superbike time of 119mph during 17th May 2011 practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Michael Rutter.17th May 2011

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Michael Rutter.17th May 2011

Bruce Anstey Padgett Honda  at Blacks Hill during 17th May 2011 Superbike practice for the North West 200.

Bruce Anstey Padgett Honda at Blacks Hill during 17th May 2011 Superbike practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Alastair Seeley. 17th May 2011

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Alastair Seeley. 17th May 2011

Ian Lougher Blackhorse Kawasaki (No2) at Blacks Hill leads Adrain Archibald Kawasaki (No 13) during 17th May 2011  practice for the North West 200.

Ian Lougher Blackhorse Kawasaki (No2) at Blacks Hill leads Adrain Archibald Kawasaki (No 13) during 17th May 2011 practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Conor Cummins. 17 May 2011

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Conor Cummins. 17 May 2011

Michael Rutter  Riders Bathams  Ducati at Blacks Hill during  17th May 2011 practice for the North West 200.

Michael Rutter Riders Bathams Ducati at Blacks Hill during 17th May 2011 practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Adrian Archibald.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Adrian Archibald.

North West 200 practice night 17th may 2011.Bruce Anstey get a good luck kiss from his partner Annie.

North West 200 practice night 17th may 2011.Bruce Anstey get a good luck kiss from his partner Annie.

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Cameron Donald. 17th May 2011

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Cameron Donald. 17th May 2011

William Dunlop Wilson Craig Racing Honda during 17th May 2011 Superstock practice for the North West 200.

William Dunlop Wilson Craig Racing Honda during 17th May 2011 Superstock practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Cameron Donald. 17th May 2011

Relentless International North West 200 practice night.Cameron Donald. 17th May 2011

Stephen Thompson (No 11) BMW  leads Alastair Seeley Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing during 17th May 2011 Superstock practice for the North West 200.

Stephen Thompson (No 11) BMW leads Alastair Seeley Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing during 17th May 2011 Superstock practice for the North West 200.

Brian Little

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Bruce Anstey Padgett Honda.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Bruce Anstey Padgett Honda.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Cameron Donald.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Cameron Donald.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Michael Dunlop has problems with his Superbike.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Michael Dunlop has problems with his Superbike.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Michael Dunlop.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Michael Dunlop.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Alastair Seeley, Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Alastair Seeley, Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing.

Guy Martin

Guy Martin

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Cameron Donald, Wilson Craig Racing.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Superbike practice session.Cameron Donald, Wilson Craig Racing.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Ian Lougher.

North West 200 practice night 17th May 2011.Ian Lougher.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Gary Watton, Anna Hegerty, Jenny Mairs and Emma McCreadie.

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 21th May 2011.Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.comRelentless International North West 200 race day.A wet start fails to dampen motorbike racing fans as they await the start of the races.Gary Watton, Anna Hegerty, Jenny Mairs and Emma McCreadie.

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North West 200 race day: Gary Johnston cheers up a deflated crowd

The prophets of doom prematurely prepared their obituaries for the North West 200 when the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001 wiped the event from the calender.

Ten years on, storm clouds quite literally engulfed the race again, causing questions to be asked of its future well-being, given the huge financial loss inflicted by the weekend abandonment.

Incessant rain, a serious oil spill on the track, mass evacuation from the paddock after a first-ever bomb alert... everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the blameless organisers.

None of the above could have been legislated for or avoided. Saturday's North West was simply jinxed.

They expected rain and prepared for it, but no-one could have anticipated the freak conditions that battered the north coast circuit, the accidental oil spill made worse as it formed a lethal mix with surface water on the track, nor the delay and disruption caused by an overspill from the dustbin of history.

The only mishaps avoided were racing accidents and those would surely have occurred with potentially disastrous consequences, had the riders been allowed to return to the hazardous track. Running again on Sunday was never an option with local residents to consider.

Naturally there were grumbles and more outpourings of gloom among the many thousands of disappointed fans who stuck it out in saturation for six hours or more in a constant downpour in the forlorn hope more racing would follow a scintillating, sole Supersport race, won by Alastair Seeley.

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They should have hung laurels on every rider who braved the crazy conditions. Likewise, the fans, who grimly hung on until the inevitable bitter end, deserve medals for their devotion.

And that is why the North West will survive its latest setback — because of the determination of the riders and the unswerving loyalty of those who support them and the famous event.

When the disappointment dims and bad memories of the day diminish, thoughts should turn back to 2001.

The pessimists said then the race would never be the same again for its gap year — and they were right. It returned, bigger and better than ever. Now another watershed has been reached.

As they conduct their inquest this week, the Coleraine club organisers should consider Saturday's washout a case of fate trying to tell them something again — a signal that more change needs to happen to put the race on a financial footing that matches its magnitude.

And to secure, once and for all, its valued status as a jewel in this country's sporting and tourism crown.

This column has consistently argued that something is not right when an event can generate over £7million for the Northern Ireland economy, £4million of that locally, and still struggle to break even.

Saturday's revenue loss, particularly their biggest source of income from programme sales, will hit even harder.

The volunteer army of the Coleraine club cannot alone turn around the supertanker they have built. They need help and that has to begin with recognition of their worth.

Business and generous sponsors cannot carry all of the burden of the three-quarter million pounds it takes to run every year.

Now Government must step in and take the North West and its’ survival seriously.

It should be looked at, not just in terms of a sporting event, attracting tens of thousands to what is largely a free show, but as a wealth creator, sustaining the equivalent of 120 jobs annually from that £7million.

The Government bean counters will have read the Economic Impact Report commissioned into last year's North West.

It found every pound invested in the race generated £33, so they know it represents a sound investment of public money.

Currently £65,000 of funding is forthcoming. That needs to treble, at least.

And, in that respect, the race has a friend at court in Ian Paisley junior (pictured), clad in his bikers' leathers on Saturday but vowing to don his Assembly suit of armour and go into battle for a cause close to his heart.

Young Ian was preaching to the converted when he made an impromptu rallying call to guests in the hospitality area. Wearing his heart on his leather sleeve, he voiced his frustration at the disruptions, both natural and malicious.

“This event is a national treasure and should not be left to struggle for what it brings to Northern Ireland,” he said. “More Government money needs to be invested — £65,000 isn't enough compared to the much greater amounts being put into other sports here and the comparable Isle of Man TT.

“They are similar events, creating economic and tourism spin-offs in difficult times. Why should the North West be the poor relation? Rest assured I'll be fighting their corner in the new Assembly.”

Paisley junior didn't so much condemn the neanderthals behind that earlier brief throwback to the dark ages as deride them in a one word dismissal. “A*seh*les,” he called them.

Their cowardice in hiding behind anonymous phone calls does not bear comparison to the bravery of the riders who would have carried on racing, had they been allowed.

Race chief Mervyn Whyte, a decent man carrying an indecent weight on his shoulders, could not have been expected to live with the consequences if it all went wrong on a day when everything seemed pre-determined to go awry.

Watching Mervyn and his team cope admirably in the face of unimaginable adversity, the thought occurred they should not have to bear the event's financial worries on top of everything else.

Those need to be washed away like oil from the track to ensure normal service resumes next year, as it will. On yer bike, young Ian, Make it happen.


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