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Relieved road racing fans ready for North West 200

2023-06-01 16:41:31 source:CBS News author:Press center4 click:213order

Road racing fans are gearing up for the much anticipated return of the world famous North West 200 next week.

The future of Irish road racing had been cast into doubt over soaring public liability insurance costs.

The reasons for the increased premiums included instability in the insurance market and insurers concerned by the number of claims involved in the sport.

Road racing is notoriously dangerous, with many riders being killed over the years competing in events worldwide.

Six riders were tragically killed in the flagship race on the Isle of Man last year.

The North West 200, which is Northern Ireland's largest outdoor sporting event, has claimed the lives of a number of riders since its inception more than 90 years ago.

In an effort to ensure Irish road racing events went ahead this year, a crowdfunding page was set up by fans, sponsors and riders to help raise almost £90,000.

The money helped contribute to a renewed lower insurance quote to ensure the North West 200 and other major events like the Armoy and Cookstown 100 were financially viable to run for organisers.

BBC News NI caught up with dedicated fans, volunteers and local businesses who are thankful this year's North West 200 is going ahead and cannot wait to lap up the sights and sounds of the Triangle Circuit.

Jackie Brogan from Ballymoney, County Antrim, is a self-confessed North West 200 superfan.

She told BBC News NI she has been coming to race week for longer than she would care to mention.

Ms Brogan said her family home as a child was just opposite Mel Murphy's house, who was a mechanic and close friend of Joey Dunlop - a major part of the road racing dynasty that is the Dunlop family.

"I just remember looking over and seeing them working all day and all night getting their bikes ready for the North West 200 and it was just amazing and I've been hooked ever since."

Ms Brogan said so many people really look forward to race week and there is nothing quite like watching the racers fly around the circuit.

"There's no buzz quite like the North West 200 because it's just a great family day out," she told BBC News NI.

"I am so happy it's actually going ahead this year, it would have been a great shame if it wasn't able to happen because so many people love it and so many shops and businesses depend on it."

She and her bike-fanatic family will be heading down this year hoping for some great weather and some even better racing.

Cathal Cunning, chief marshal of the North West 200, said a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to help make the event a success.

Mr Cunning and about 800 dedicated volunteers within their team give up their time every year to make sure that the flagship event runs smoothly.

"We have two or three generations of different families who have all volunteered over the years at the North West 200," he said.

"We get a lot of the same people coming back again and again because there is such a great community spirit to it and that is why we get so many people wanting to give up their time."

Mr Cunning believes the reason the North West 200 is so successful is because the people who live in the area want to showcase their home in the best light.

"Race week is a huge part of our year," general manager of the Atlantic Hotel in Portrush, Natasha Garrott, said.

"We have so many customers from all over join us for the North West 200.

"We've bookings from Germany, Scotland, France and we have some gentlemen from the United States who fly over and stay with us every year for the North West 200."

Ms Garrott said they even get customers booking their stay for next year when they are about to leave the hotel.

"There was a lot of turmoil over will it or won't it happen this year and we are just so pleased that it's actually going ahead because it's a major part of our business," she said.

A full breakdown of the North West 200 race schedule from Tuesday 9 May to Saturday 13 May can be found here.

Streaming of all practice sessions and races will be available on the BBC Sport NI website.

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