The headline Superbike race at the Vauxhall International North West 200 will have a new sponsor this year with the Merrow Hotel and Spa on board as backers of the blue riband event.
The new £20 million hotel complex was granted planning permission in January and groundwork is due to commence shortly at a prime site on the Ballyreagh Road in Portrush, adjacent to the start and finish line at the famous road race.
The luxurious four-star, 118-room complex, which will be operated by Interstate Europe Hotels & Resorts, will also become the official home of the North West 200, housing the event’s offices within its grounds.
Last year, the showpiece Superbike race served up one of the best showdowns in modern history at the North West as all-time record holder Alastair Seeley and fellow Carrickfergus rider and British Superbike contender Glenn Irwin locked horns, with Irwin edging a narrow victory.
This week, the Merrow Hotel’s Donna and Mark Donnelly joined NW200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte to announce the sponsorship deal for the seven-lap showpiece race, which will bring the curtain down on race day on Saturday, May 19.
“The Merrow Hotel and Spa is delighted to sponsor this year’s Superbike Race at the North West 200,” said Mark Donnelly.
“The complex was granted planning permission in January and we are now entering the stage where ground works are due to start.
“We hope to provide the North West 200 with a unique opportunity to create a constant presence at its true home on the North Coast as well as providing much needed leisure and hospitality services in the area.”
Upon completion, the 118-room hotel will offer a spa with stunning sea views, a leisure club with a 20m swimming pool, a gym and studio, steam room, bar/bistro, a signature cocktail bar, restaurant, conference space, meeting rooms and nine chalets serviced by the hotel.
Race chief Whyte added: “The North West 200 has played an important role in the economy of the North Coast region, particularly in attracting visitors to the area.
“Our association with the Merrow Hotel and Spa complex will help strengthen that relationship and provide the race with a new home as we approach our 90th anniversary.”
The race will be launched next Wednesday evening, March 14, at the Vineyard in Coleraine.