IRISH ROAD RACING CALENDAR UNDERGOES A REVAMP

Ballymoney's Michael Dunlop in action at the Mid-Antrim
Ballymoney's Michael Dunlop in action at the Mid-Antrim

The Irish National road racing calendar has undergone a revamp for the start of the 2016 season, when traditional curtain-raising meeting the Cookstown 100 will be the third event on the list, taking place on Saturday, April 30.

Beforehand, the returning Mid-Antrim 150 will kick off another year of domestic action between the hedges on the 3.6-mile Clough course after the race was cancelled in 2014 and 2015 due to a lack of funding.

The start of the Armoy Race of Legends

The start of the Armoy Race of Legends

The popular event has secured a new title sponsor in JFM Haulage for the first time since 1982 and Mid Antrim 150 Club Chairman Jack Agnew hopes a switch from the race’s usual August slot to Saturday, April 2, will help boost grid numbers.

“One of the reasons for the change is because the July and August dates are full of road races with events like Armoy and the Ulster Grand Prix,” said Agnew.

“But we also have a school on our course and we had initially aimed for the last Saturday in June as a possible date, which would tie in with the start of the school holidays.

“But to do that we would’ve needed the school closed down for a day and it wasn’t really suitable, so we went for the Easter date instead and if it works for us next year, we’ll be going for it every year: the Saturday after Easter, because the schools are closed for a fortnight up to that date and that gives us the opportunity to push on with course set-up and get everything set-up around the school without any problems.

“I don’t want to be offending anybody by running the Mid Antrim as the first road race of the year but it’s just the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

The Tandragee 100 has also shifted to a new date, with the North Armagh Club confirming the race will be held on Saturday, April 23.

Conventionally, the event took place in May in the run up to the North West 200, but the club has taken the decision to hold the race a few weeks earlier than normal.

The date change means no Irish National road race will take place in May, with the North West 200 standing on its own from May 10-14 before practice for the Isle of Man TT is scheduled to commence on May 28.

The remainder of the 2016 calendar adheres largely to the format of previous seasons, with Kells in Co Meath hosting round four of the Irish Championships on June 19 after the TT, while the famous Skerries 100 near Dublin takes place during the first weekend in July.

The ‘Race of the South’ at Walderstown in Co Westmeath will be held a week later on Sunday, July 10, with Faugheen in Co Tipperary (July 24) and the Armoy ‘Race of Legends’ on July 30 completing a busy month.

Following the Ulster Grand Prix, which takes place from August 10-13 and incorporates the Dundrod 150, the Cork meeting is scheduled for August 21 with Killalane set to being the Irish National season to a close on Sunday, September 11.

2016 Irish Road Racing Dates

Mid-Antrim 150 – April 1-2

Tandragee 100 – April 22-23

Cookstown 100 – April 29-30

North West 200 – May 10-14

Kells – June 18-19

Skerries – July 1-2

Walderstown – July 9-10

Faugheen – July 23-24

Armoy – July 29-30

Ulster Grand Prix – August 10-13

Dundrod 150 – August 11

Cork – August 21

Killalane – September 10-11