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The North West 200 doesn’t get better than this… it was like a return to the good old days

Liam Beckett


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There was lots of quality racing at yesterday's North West 200

There was lots of quality racing at yesterday's North West 200

Rod Neill Pacemaker Press Intern

Glenn Irwin is hoisted aloft in front of a huge crowd after his Superbike success

Glenn Irwin is hoisted aloft in front of a huge crowd after his Superbike success

Alastair Seeley enjoys his champagne moment

Alastair Seeley enjoys his champagne moment

Lee Johnston, who won the Supersport race yesterday, with son Jessie

Lee Johnston, who won the Supersport race yesterday, with son Jessie

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There was lots of quality racing at yesterday's North West 200

The 2022 North West 200 will surely go down in history as one of the best ever.

With no International road racing on the North Coast since 2019 it was always odds on that this year’s event would be greatly appreciated by the race starved proper road-race fans, but I doubt if too many anticipated just how incredible this week’s racing would be.

Huge credit must go to the organisers who had the course looking as well as I have ever seen it, the race track itself was spotlessly clean and both sides of the road decorated in what seemed like miles of endless advertising banners and hoardings. It really looked the part and I commend everybody concerned for their efforts.

Thankfully for once the weather gods were kind to us, particularly yesterday when we were blessed with wall-to-wall bright sunshine.

The weather is the one thing that no-one can legislate for when these dates are set but this year we can have no complaints whatsoever.

Then of course we had the crowds, the biggest I can remember for many years, packed grandstands and pretty similar at every preferred vantage point around the 8.9-mile circuit.

It took me back years to what I always remember it being like, hot sunny weather and massive crowds around the circuit.

But of course, it’s the racing that everyone comes to see and those gladiators in leathers didn’t disappoint either, they were superb.

We had lots of lap records and plenty of riders putting themselves in the mix for Man of the Meeting with their performances on two wheels.

On Thursday night it was yet another masterclass display by Alastair Seeley, who won both races to take his record number of wins to 26, and he would go on to win again yesterday to extend that record to an incredible 27 around the triangle speed-bowl.

However, for me the most pleasing outcome of the entire week was the fact that the whole event passed by without serious incident and so every rider will return home relatively unscathed and in good physical condition, and that always has to be the top priority.

On the downside I suppose the only negative of the week was when several top riders were left with no choice but to withdraw from the final big race, the ‘blue riband’ North West 200 race itself.

The grid line-up was severely decimated after Dunlop flagged up an alleged suspect manufacturing defect in their ‘superbike’ tyres which meant they advised the riders to give the race a miss.

This of course meant that the last race in what had already been a superb day/week of racing was left a tad ‘diluted’ by so many empty slots at the front of the grid.

Nevertheless, it was once again the Superbike king Glenn Irwin himself who showed the rest exactly how it’s done when he went on to become the first man ever in the in the history of the North West 200 to win six consecutive races in the same class, a truly remarkable achievement by a hugely talented motorcycle road-racer.

Yes, when the dust settles and the adrenalin returns to planet earth, comes a realisation that it doesn’t get much better than this.

Unbelievable racing, baking hot weather, and record crowds, and all topped off by a more or less clean bill of health for all the competitors.

Now the only question I have left unanswered is “Will the Northern Ireland Tourist Board please take note, and will our politicians in Stormont do likewise?”

This event is without question the biggest outdoor sporting event in Northern Ireland but I’m not totally convinced the powers that be in this country recognise that, and that for me is an absolute travesty.

I’m once again appealing to those in power to please accept the fact that sport in Northern Ireland is our greatest common denominator.

Therefore, stop ignoring the fact that motorcycle road racing is in dire need of investment, not token gestures, proper action is required and not hollow words.

If it wasn’t for the hundreds of volunteers these events like the North West 200 simply wouldn’t exist and it’s time the people in suits realised that and got off their backsides and gave this incredible sporting event the help and the money it badly requires.


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