The 2022 North West 200 will surely go down in history as one of the best ever.
Since there have been no international road races on the north coast since 2019 there was always a chance that this year’s event would be hugely appreciated by the famished true road racing fans, but I doubt too many people would have expected how incredible this week’s races are. would be.
Huge credit goes to the organizers who made the course look as good as I’ve ever seen it, the race track itself was spotlessly clean and both sides of the road decorated with what seemed like miles of endless advertising banners and billboards. It looked really good and I commend everyone involved for their efforts.
Luckily the weather gods were in our favor for once, especially yesterday when we were blessed with a bright wall-to-wall sun.
The weather is the one thing no one can control when these dates are set, but this year we can have no complaints at all.
Then of course we had the crowds, the biggest I can remember in many years, crowded grandstands and quite similar at any vantage point around the 8.9 mile circuit.
It took me years back to what I always remember: warm sunny weather and huge crowds around the track.
But of course it’s the racing that everyone comes to watch and those gladiators in leather didn’t disappoint either, they were fantastic.
We had a lot of lap records and a lot of riders putting themselves in the mix for Man of the Meeting with their performances on two wheels.
Thursday night was another masterclass display by Alastair Seeley, who won both races and brought his record tally of wins to 26, and he would win again yesterday to extend that record to an incredible 27 around the triangular speed bowl.
For me, however, the most pleasing outcome of the whole week was the fact that the entire event went off without any major incidents and so every rider will return home relatively unscathed and in good physical condition, and that should always be the top priority.
On the other hand, I think the only negative of the week was that several top riders had no choice but to withdraw from the last big race, the ‘blue rim’ North West 200 race itself.
The grid line-up was severely decimated after Dunlop spotted an alleged suspected manufacturing defect in their ‘superbike’ tires which meant they advised riders to miss the race.
This of course meant that the last race in what had already been a great day/week of racing was a bit ‘watered down’ by so many empty spots at the front of the grid.
Nevertheless, it was once again Superbike king Glenn Irwin himself who showed the rest exactly how it’s done, when he became the first man in North West 200 history to win six consecutive races in the same class. a truly remarkable achievement by a hugely talented motorcycle racer.
Yes, when the dust settles and the adrenaline returns to planet earth comes the realization that it doesn’t get much better than this.
Incredible races, scorching hot weather and record masses, all topped off with a more or less clean bill of health for all participants.
Now the only question I have left unanswered is: “Will the Northern Ireland Tourist Board take it into account, and will our politicians in Stormont do the same?”
This event is without a doubt the biggest outdoor sporting event in Northern Ireland, but I’m not quite convinced that those in power in this country recognize that, and that to me is an absolute travesty.
Once again I appeal to those in power to please accept that sport in Northern Ireland is our lowest common denominator.
So stop ignoring the fact that motorcycle road racing urgently requires investment, no symbolic gestures, appropriate action and no empty words.
Without the hundreds of volunteers, these events like the North West 200 simply wouldn’t exist and it’s time for the people in suits to realize that and get off their backs and give this incredible sporting event the help and money it desperately needs.