Crowd funding has been launched in a bid to save the North West 200 after spiralling insurance costs proved fatal to 2023’s Northern Irish race calendar.
Fans concerned about the future of the Isle Of Man TT following Thursday’s announcement cancelling all Northern Irish road and short circuit racing were reassured by ACU General Secretary Gary Thompson - National Governing Body for Motorcycle Sport in Great Britain.
”Insurance costs have gone through the roof but the TT is covered by the ACU,” Thompson told bikesportnews.com over the weekend. “We do have a medical repatriation package - established when the FIM removed the world championship status - and it would cover overseas riders and might include those from Ireland. As I understand, they would retain their MCUI licence but could apply for an ACU licence.”
The TT, while run by ACU Events Ltd, is effectively owned by the Isle of Man government, and is critical to the tourist industry of the island, bringing in £30 million plus of revenue.
The organisers and supporters of the North West, now starting a campaign to raise funds to cover the doubling and more of the insurance costs, make a similar point that their event raises circa £15 million to Portrush and the north west coast.
Other events such as the Cookstown 100, Tandragee 100 and Armoy, plus others including the proposed relaunch of the Ulster Grand Prix are more vulnerable. The Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (MCUI) is staging a crowd funding campaign to raise money to cover the insurance cost which they claimed had risen from £150,000 last year to £400,000 this year.
An MCUI statement said the Ulster Centre was confident that an amount could be raised through negotiation with the insurers adding that clubs were also happy to pay some of the increased insurance.
”If racing doesn’t take place in 2023 not only will it be nearly impossible to bring it back in 2024, we will also lose new riders coming through the ranks,” MCUI (UC) Chairman John Dillon admitted.
But following the shock announcement which made headline news on tv and radio across the UK, a tiny wave of optimism is forming, on the basis that not to run the North West 200 would be a financial disaster to the area. A combination of crowd funding, an increase in backing from the local authorities and sponsors, added to tough negotiations with the Insurers who would surely not want their name blackened, might rescue the NW200. But it still leaves a question over the smaller meetings.
”Mervyn Whyte and his team are passionate about the North West and if anyone can make it work they will,” Glenn Irwin, multiple North West winner, said to add a further tone of optimism. “The Government and the Tourist Board can surely not let one of the biggest events disappear and if the North West can raise a big enough amount, it might help the other meetings.”