Mervyn Whyte announces North West 200 changes

Changes from 2016 to reduce delays and increase safety

NORTH West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte MBE and his team has introduced some significant changes which will be implemented for the 2016 NW200 races to reduce delays and increase safety for competitors and spectators.

The 2015 North West 200 provided great racing, however a serious incident occurred during the opening superstock event on Saturday and has since led to a comprehensive investigation.

New safety measures have since been confirmed and will be implemented to ensure the continuing safety of competitors and spectators.

Whyte explained: '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.'

The changes that are being implemented in 2016 are:

1.   Race grids will be reduced in size, with less riders starting in each wave. 

2.   Riders 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 focused 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. 

These five changes will be implemented and communicated with everyone involved in the races to ensure they have maximum effect. Whyte expressed that the co-operation of everyone - riders, team and spectators alike, are extremely important ‘to achieve the common goal of a safe and spectacular week’s racing at the 2016 North West 200.'