All motorcycle road racing, short circuit racing and trials in Northern Ireland have been cancelled for 2023. The motocross season will not be affected and will continue as planned.
Following an emergency meeting of the Ulster Centre of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland, it has been decided that, following soaring insurance costs, it is no longer viable to hold any events, which includes the International North West 200 races.
Current British Superbike rider Glenn Irwin, who in 2022 broke the record for most consecutive Superbike wins at the North West 200, said on Twitter that he was “feeling angered, frustrated and, like all riders, very let down.” Irwin’s sentiments are shared across the community, with many on social media speculating that this could be the beginning of the end for National Road Racing.
The Motorcycle Union of Ireland said that its quoted costs for insurance tripled ahead of 2023, topping £400,000 for the year.
As well as the North West 200, the blue riband event of Northern Irish road racing, other events that have been cancelled include the Ulster Grand Prix, Cookstown 100, Tandragee 100, Sunflower Trophy, Armoy Race of Legends and the entire Ulster Superbike Championship season.
"The consensus was that the costs proposed were, at this time, unsustainable for most clubs in order to provide the required public liability cover to run our planned events," said Motorcycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre) chairman in a statement.
"The MCUI (UC) will, however, continue to pursue all options for the provision of public liability insurance, should they arise in the near future.
"We appreciate that this situation is far from ideal, however although we have been unable to secure the running of events for this year, this arrangement and decision will go a little way to at least allowing licence holders the opportunity to engage in competitive events, should they wish, with the appropriate cover and security."
The announcement follows a statement put out by Motorcycling Ireland earlier in the week which confirmed it was struggling to secure any insurance policies for the upcoming season, citing Brexit and their previous insurers decision to stop covering motorsport events as reasons for the problems.
However, following the announcement from MCUI (UC), the Coleraine and District Motor Club - organisers of the North West 200 – put out its own statement that the club was continuing its efforts to stage the event across 7th-13th May as originally planned, as well as an induction day for new competitors next Tuesday (14th February) and Meet the Stars race launch the following evening.
"The crisis the North West 200 and the rest of motorcycle sport in Ireland currently faces is due to a huge increase in the cost of insurance cover for 2023," said the club’s statement. "The Coleraine and District Motor Club has been working tirelessly to mitigate the pressure created by these extra costs.
"The club was confident it could manage the initial premium increase, but with other events unable to do so the transfer of extra charges to the North West 200 created an unsustainable financial burden.
"The organisers of the NW200 have not given up the fight. We cannot afford to lose an event that has been running for over 90 years and plays such a vital role in the economy of the north coast area.
"We have been overwhelmed by the messages and offers of support we have received today and whilst we understand the decision taken by the MCUI (UC), the Coleraine and District Motor club will continue in its efforts to stage the North West 200.”