North West 200 to return in 2022 after two-year absence
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North West 200 to return in 2022 after two-year absence
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The North West 200 is set to return from May 10-14 after a two-year absence.

North West 200 to return in 2022 after two-year absence

It’s all systems go for the North West 200 this year following back-to-back cancellations over the past two seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The north coast meeting is set to go ahead from May 10-14 around the 8.9-mile Triangle course, with the event scheduled to be the first major road race to take place since the Macau Grand Prix in November 2019.

All the leading names are expected to return this spring, including 24-time winner Alastair Seeley, plus fellow Ulstermen Michael Dunlop and Lee Johnston; TT and Ulster GP lap record holder Peter Hickman; Dean Harrison in the new-look DAO Racing team and John McGuinness, who will give the Honda Racing UK Fireblade its roads debut alongside team-mate Glenn Irwin.

The North West will offer many of the top riders the chance to get up to speed ahead of the Isle of Man TT, which is scheduled to return this year for the first time since 2019.

Stanleigh Murray, chairman of Coleraine and District Motor Club and NW200 Clerk of Course, also welcomed the news that fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils would remain on board as title sponsors for 2022.

“Although the pandemic stopped the race action over the past two seasons, the management team of Coleraine and District Motor Club have been working hard to ensure the structures and support that underpin the North West 200 have remained in place for the day when we would be able make this announcement,” he said.

“We are delighted to have retained the support of our loyal title sponsors: to have the backing of fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils – two of the Province’s leading companies – gives us confidence as we plan the return of one of Northern Ireland’s major sporting attractions.”

The announcement comes following confirmation last week that entries had opened for the Isle of Man TT – motorcycle road racing’s premier event – raising expectations of a return to a full calendar this year after a barren spell for the sport since the coronavirus pandemic brought road racing to a virtual standstill in 2020.

It is also hoped the Ulster Grand Prix will rev up again this summer as efforts continue to secure the future of the historic road race at Dundrod.

A new company with ex-NW200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte – who is now a consultant for the North West – and former road racing great Phillip McCallen at the helm was set up to bring Northern Ireland biggest two road races under one umbrella.

A rescue package is being sought from the Northern Ireland Executive after the Ulster Grand Prix fell into financial difficulties, with the Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club owing debts in the region of £300,000.

Last year, the club entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with its creditors, enabling a portion of the debts owed to be paid back over a fixed period of time.

As part of the funding proposal, a new-look Ulster GP would also feature classic motorcycle racing around the world’s fastest road racing course, where English star Hickman recorded the first ever 136mph lap as he won a record seven races from seven starts in 2019.

The Dundrod meeting would follow on from Portadown man McCallen’s Classic Bike Festival Ireland event at Bishopscourt Racing Circuit in Co Down, with the aim of luring many of the prominent classic racing teams bound for the Classic TT, which is usually held at the end of August.

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Kyle White

11-01-2022, 12:50 PM
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