NORTH WET 200

WASH OUT. It was sadly out with the umbrellas at the NW 200 on Saturday.INBM21-11 9031F. Pics by Ann Louden

WASH OUT. It was sadly out with the umbrellas at the NW 200 on Saturday.INBM21-11 9031F. Pics by Ann Louden

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NORTH West 200 chief Mervyn Whyte has revealed he plans to lobby government officials for a change in legislation allowing an extra day to be set aside for racing in 2012.

Speaking after a disastrous day for the international motorcycle road race on Saturday, which was eventually abandoned with just one of the five scheduled races completed following a succession of setbacks including poor weather, a security alert and a devastating oil spillage.

He feels an additional day for racing must be incorporated into the current Road Closing Order to provide the organisers with the option of holding a two-day event should similar circumstances arise in the future.

“I would like to see if the Roads Closing Order could be changed, particularly for the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix, which are major sporting events in this country,” Whyte said.

“We saw how it affected the Ulster Grand Prix a few years ago and now we’ve had the same problem ourselves.

“The Order at the moment is for three-days, the two practice days and race day itself. But we need to see if there is anything that can be built into that particular Order to allow us to progress to a fourth day if something serious happens in the future.

“I will certainly plan to talk to government representatives to see if there is anything we can do.

“It’s been in my mind to pursue the possibility of having a two-day event at the North West for some time now,” he added.

“I would also like to see us having a full day practice session on a Tuesday as well.”

Whyte said he was determined to try and run a second race on Saturday to try and give fans some value for money, but after taking the views of top competitors on board he was left with no alternative but to admit defeat.

“The only decision I could make was to abandon the event,” he said. “If the riders had went out to race again and something had happened you would never get over it.”

Whyte though has vowed the event will be back bigger and better next year after what he called ‘a disastrous day’ for the road races on Saturday.

Despite the downpour, the opening Supersport Race was able to get under way slightly late and it was local man Alastair Seeley who took the spoils.

The Relentless Suzuki rider’s victory came after a battle with Cameron Donald on the Wilson Craig Honda in the five-lap race.

Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson had taken the lead but lost out after a mistake on lap two.

With Seeley in front, Donald was recovering from a bad start but quickly forced his way into second.

Ultimately, it was the diminutive BSB star who took the win after a great last lap fight.

Supersport Race One done and dusted, the riders headed back out on to the grid for the Superbike race but drama followed.

After a delay caused by the weather, reports began to filter through of a bomb scare.

As a result, organisers called a security alert which delayed events for a further hour, with the race finally getting under way at around 1.30pm.

However, it was without the Rapid Ducati riders Michael Rutter and Martin Jessop, Relentless rider Guy Martin and a few others, who refused to go out because they felt conditions were too dangerous.

It was Michael Dunlop who got the best start from Ryan Farquhar, Bruce Anstey and Seeley, but Seeley was the man on a charge, searing past everyone to take the lead within a few minutes.

Then disaster struck as Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki let go on the exit of Church Corner, spilling fluid all the way along the coast road and bringing out the red flag.

With a massive clean-up of the track taking a couple of hours, the weather continued to deteriorate.

Although the race did try to get going again later in the afternoon, the wet weather combined with an area of the track which was still greasy led to further postponement.

Although some riders said they were happy to race, team managers were called to an emergency meeting.

Race director Mervyn Whyte said: “There’s not much I can say except this has been a disastrous day for the North West.

“We worked so hard to make sure everything went off perfectly.

“But unfortunately weather conditions are something you can’t help.

“We had the bomb scare earlier, which didn’t help the situation, and it went downhill from there.

“Now we need to go away, review everything and vow to come back with a bigger and better event next year.”