The North West 200 are to bring in safety changes. The following statement was released on social media this morning.
With the 2015 road racing season drawing to a close we are now looking forward to the 2016 North West 200 which will take place on May 10-14 next year.
As an event that continues to attract the highest quality entry of any road race in the world, the Coleraine and District Motor Club is completely committed to maintaining the North West 200’s position as a sporting occasion that is immensely enjoyable for competitors and spectators alike. Each year we review every aspect of the event, from safety considerations to the satisfaction of riders and fans.
That review has now been completed and I would like to take this opportunity as Event Director to inform everyone of some significant changes we intend to implement for the 2016 races.
Although the 2015 North West 200 provided superb racing on both race days, everyone will also be aware that there was a serious incident during the opening Superstock event on Saturday. Thankfully, those involved in the crash are now well on the way to recovery and a comprehensive investigation of every aspect of the incident will soon be completed. Any measures that may be recommended to ensure the continuing safety of competitors and spectators will be implemented immediately.
As a result of a combination of a significant delay involved in dealing with that incident and poor weather, the North West 200 organisers were forced to curtail the Saturday race programme.
As Event Director I understand the frustration of the race teams and fans with that situation. We have taken on board the views of everyone involved in the race and have been engaged in intensive consultation with fans, team principals and riders over the past four months. Our aim is to improve the race organisation, making its operation both faster and more efficient. As a result we intend to introduce these significant changes for 2016.
1. Race grids will be reduced in size, with less riders and machines starting in each wave.
2. Riders and machines will leave the grid for their sighting lap in larger groups than is currently the case.
3. Most significantly, it is proposed that when the riders return to the grid following the sighting lap they will take up their race formation and the race will begin immediately-providing there has been no deterioration in weather conditions that would require tyre changes.
4. These measures are focussed on saving time within the race organisation and to augment their effect less team and media personnel will be permitted on to the grid. Media interviews will also be prohibited after the sighting lap.
5. To improve communication to the teams and riders on the grid, and to the spectators around the course, more frequent and up to date announcements will be shared with everyone through BBC Radio Ulster’s live commentary team and via the on course PA system. More speakers will also be deployed around the course.
Over the next few months the North West 200 organisers will be ensuring these changes are effectively conveyed to everyone involved in the race. To have the maximum effect they will require the co-operation of everyone- riders, teams and spectators alike and we look forward to working together to achieve our common goal of a safe and spectacular week’s racing at the 2016 North West 200.
Mervyn Whyte, Event Director.