Belfast Telegraph

Whyte delight as NW200 is revved up by Vauxhall deal

By Paul Lindsay

Four wheels will again be supporting two at next year's International North West 200 after Vauxhall Motors Limited agreed terms to remain as title sponsor of Ireland's largest outdoor sporting event for a fifth consecutive year.

The Vauxhall International North West 200 will run from May 7 through to the main race day on Saturday, May 13, with the deal a welcome shot in the arm for Event Director Mervyn Whyte MBE and his dedicated band of volunteers at the promoting Coleraine & District Motor Club.

Speaking trackside yesterday, during a photo-shoot with riders Ian Hutchinson and Alastair Seeley, Whyte said: "We are delighted to have agreed another deal with Vauxhall and furthermore they have an option to extend that into year two, potentially taking the commitment in total to six years.

"The finance, vehicle fleet and significant branding around the circuit, which are provided by Vauxhall, are vital in running an International event each year,"

Whyte, a bike man through and through, was in Belfast on Monday to show his support for double World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea, who was honoured at Parliament Buildings, Stormont for his achievements.

He continued: "The support package supplied by Vauxhall UK demonstrates their commitment to our International event in Northern Ireland and helps us to attract the best road racers in the world to our grid."

Those racers include Hutchinson and Seeley.

As announced only last week, Hutchy will remain in the Moneymore-based Tyco BMW team for 2017, with NW200 record holder Alastair Seeley - who has a stunning tally of 17 wins at the Triangle - still without a ride for next season.

Hutchinson said: "The North West is always a superb event with so much atmosphere and produces close racing in all classes, so it's an honour to come over and support both Mervyn and his team, when they are recognising such a high profile title sponsor."

Looking ahead, Hutchinson added: "I got back to winning ways at the North West this year with a Superstock win, and the goal will be to come back in 2017 with TAS Racing and try to add to their 24 wins at the North West.

"Hopefully that will be a Superbike win or two on the Tyco BMW and a challenge to the likes of Alastair for the Supersport wins with my McAMS Yamaha team."

North West 200 record holder Seeley said: "It's proving very difficult finding the perfect deal for 2017, but I will definitely be on the NW200 grid in May."

Vauxhall's Regional Operations Manager Gordon Hannen, himself a keen biker, said of the extended deal: "Vauxhall Motors are delighted to return as title sponsors for another year and are looking forward to reaching out to thousands of motorcycle fans through our sponsorship of this great event."

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