Organisers of the North West 200 have appealed to local residents to allow them to run a Thursday daytime practice session on May 13th in a move aimed at improving safety at the event.
Officials have been working with key organisations, residents and business people in the Coleraine area since December in a bid to push the extra practice session through.
North West 200 Race Director Mervyn Whyte MBE, explained: “Our NW200 management team is proud of the event's ongoing growth and development but are mindful that safety must always be our top priority. The new daytime practice on Thursday will replicate Race Day conditions such as road temperatures, setting sun and timing, so enabling riders to become very familiar with course layout. The daytime practice also addresses the problem in previous years of lack of practice time for competitors and allows us, for the first time, to run all classes separately. We believe altering the time of the traditional Thursday practice session will dramatically improve overall safety at the event.”
“Whilst star riders compete in the North West 200 year on year, the race continues to expand and attract new riders and it is vital we offer these competitors a safe and secure practice session to build up competition speeds which are timed in excess of 150 mph. Lack of practice time has been a major concern with riders and with these new sessions we hope to facilitate them and ensure riders gain as much experience of the conditions and roads prior to Race Day.”
Eight times NW200 winner Steve Plater supports the move and had this to say: “Seasoned riders will be more relaxed and less likely to make mistakes whilst rookie riders will have additional time on their own to get to know the course during daylight hours. I believe it's a very professional approach and provides a much safer competitor environment.”
Havier Beltran, HM Plant Honda team manager added, “This is great news for the Relentless International North West 200 in association with Black Horse. Moving practice to during the day will give the competitors more time on the track and it’s an important step forward for the event.”