NW200 expands race programme

Relentless International North West 200 organisers, Coleraine & District Motor Club Ltd, are putting plans in place to develop and expand the 2012 event’s racing programme with the aim of enhancing the overall visitor experience and attracting additional spectators.

The committee had initial discussions with Coleraine Borough Council on a proposed consultation exercise around changes to road closing times. Outline proposals include the introduction of a new daytime practice session on Tuesday as well as Thursday during Race Week and it is anticipated that roads would close on both days from 9.30am until 2.30pm.

Officials have also outlined a proposal for a new concept in evening racing on Thursday with roads closing at 5.30pm and re-opening at 9.30pm. Organisers plan to promote a number of races on Thursday evening in addition to the traditional Saturday Race Day programme in a bid to ensure fans and visitors experience an extensive and full racing portfolio.

Following discussions with Coleraine Borough Council last night (Tuesday 4th October) NW organisers secured the unanimous backing of Council and will now put in place a thorough process to consult with residents, businesses, schools and the farming community located round the 8.9 mile triangle course.

It is expected that the consultation process will take a number of weeks.

Explaining the background to the new developments Technical Director Mervyn Whyte MBE said, “Unlike the TT the North West 200’s racing programme has always focussed solely on Saturday’s Race Day and as everyone will recall last May we experienced an unprecedented series of incidents and had no choice but to cut short our Race Day programme. Following ongoing consultation with teams, managers and riders as well as feedback from the public, we believe an additional set of races on Thursday evening would inject a new vibrancy to our Race Week Festival. The new 2 day format would ensure fans get the opportunity to watch a substantial number of races even if we are unlucky enough to experience challenging conditions at any stage.”

Whyte continued, “Safety for competitors and spectators is always top of our agenda and the new proposed daytime practice session on Tuesday would provide riders with increased and valuable extra practice time prior to racing.”

Paying tribute to all residents and businesses close to the circuit and thanking them for their patience, tolerance and good-humoured support over the years, Mervyn Whyte said, “As always we try to minimize inconvenience as much as possible and we do appreciate the support we receive from local people. When Thursday daytime practice was first introduced in 2010 there were no major issues or complaints and we would continue to provide a high degree of co-operation in 2012. The organising committee would also like to thank all our NW200 officials for their support and for the sterling work they carry out during the build up to and during all practice sessions and Race Day. As we expand and develop Race Week, their help is very much appreciated.”

“The North West 200 is an important economic driver generating close to £8 million, stimulating tourism and presenting extremely positive images of the North Coast area and Northern Ireland in general to potential visitors worldwide. It’s therefore important we continue to expand and develop our race programme to attract further home grown and out of state visitors to Race Week events.”

“We aim to work closely with local people who live or work along the course and fully accommodate them if they need to leave or gain access to their homes during either our anticipated Tuesday or Thursday practices, Thursday Race Evening or Saturday Race Day. We look forward to talking to everyone during the next few months and local people can also contact us by email info@northwest200.org or telephone 028 7035 5800.”