There is no road racing expected in Northern Ireland in 2023 after the Motorcycle Union of Ireland Ulster Centre indicated that all of their events would be cancelled.
Affected events include the Cookstown 100, Tandragee 100, Armoy road races, Ulster Grand Prix and the Sunflower Trophy at Bishopscourt along with the ever-popular North West 200.
Insurance costs have been on the rise for many years and after the Covid-19 pandemic, clubs and events are running on tighter budgets due to a lack of revenue for several years.
With the number of insurance claims on the rise in the sport, premiums have been increased to levels that are unaffordable for a sport that has been hit with financial issues in recent years.
The decision has been met with heavy criticism from both riders and the public, with North West 200 race winner and British Superbikes rider Glenn Irwin waiting to release a statement until he understands the facts more clearly.
From an outsider’s perspective, the decision appears to be quite sudden and unexpected. Just a few days ago, the 2023 North West 200 was officially launched and therefore there was no indication from a public-facing point of view that this would happen.
Organisers of that race have indicated however in a statement that the Coleraine & District Motor Club “had not given up the fight”. They also added, “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.”
With the club looking for the event to go ahead as normal, they said “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.”
As things stand, there will be no road racing action within Northern Ireland in 2023, but hopes remain high for the North West 200 to go ahead as planned. Nevertheless, it’s a worrying time for all involved in one of the much-loved sports across Northern Ireland.