Sport

NW 200 vow to fight on despite cancellation of all road racing in the north for 2023

Coleraine and District Motor Club are still hopeful of staging this year's North West 200 Picture: Stephen Davison
Coleraine and District Motor Club are still hopeful of staging this year's North West 200 Picture: Stephen Davison Coleraine and District Motor Club are still hopeful of staging this year's North West 200 Picture: Stephen Davison

The organisers of the North West 200 have said they will “not give up without a fight” after it was announced on Friday that all motorcycle road racing in the north this year would be cancelled.

Soaring insurance costs have been blamed for a decision to cancel all races, which include the flagship NW 200 as well as the Cookstown 100, Tandragee 100, Armoy Race of Legends, Ulster Grand Prix, the Sunflower trophy at Bishopscourt and the Ulster Superbike Championship.

The move followed emergency meetings of the main clubs who faced paying three times as much for public liability insurance in 2023, which would amount to more than £400,000.

It is a devastating blow the fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 which returned last year this for the first time since before the Covid 19 pandemic.

However, organisers issued a statement on Friday vowing to continue to preserve the historic event.

The statement said: “The organisers of the North West 200, the Coleraine and District Motor Club, have been working tirelessly to mitigate the pressure created by these extra costs. The club was confident it could manage the initial premium increase but with other events unable to do so, the transfer of extra charges to the North West 200 created an unsustainable financial burden.

“Yesterday the sport’s governing body, the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (UC), announced the cancellation of all motorcycle sporting events in Northern Ireland this year. But the organisers of the NW200 have not given up the fight. We cannot afford to lose an event that has been running for over 90 years and plays such a vital role in the economy of the north coast area.

“We have been overwhelmed by the messages and offers of support we have received today and whilst we understand the decision taken by the MCUI (UC), the Coleraine and District Motor club will continue in its efforts to stage the North West 200 on May 7-13.

“Plans were already in place to welcome new competitors to the event during an induction day next Tuesday, February 14. Both that event and the Meet the Stars race launch, scheduled for February 15, will go ahead as planned and we will continue to keep everyone informed of our progress.”

Earlier on Friday, Motorcycle Union of Ireland chairman (Ulster Centre) John Dillon said the higher costs were simply "unsustainable" for most clubs.

He said the organisation would continue to find options for public liability insurance.

"We appreciate that this situation is far from ideal, however although we have been unable to secure the running of events for this year, this arrangement and decision will go a little way to at least allowing licence holders the opportunity to engage in competitive events, should they wish, with the appropriate cover and security."

The MCUI (UC) is responsible for issuing licenses to Northern Ireland racers, which will allow them to compete in races in the UK and elsewhere.