North West 200 2011

                                                              NW 200
After the two brilliant shorter road races at Cookstown and Tandragee it was time for the NW 200 at Portrush and Coleraine. We have been going to watch the races here for a few years and have also managed to get up for a few practice sessions. Unfortunately I had a cousin over from Florida during practice and for some strange reason she opted to visit the Giants Causeway over the race circuit. Strange choice I know but I did accidentally take a wrong turn on the way home so that we could drive the circuit from Metropole to University :).By this time I had started to make some good local friends on twitter – @carolinehornet and her bike bus, @JulesCanon – sister of said Caroline, @millarwalt – Dad of 5 Ducati rider (more of him later), @autocads – lives on NW circuit and @curlybiker – not curly at all. Caroline parked the bus up at the Magic Roundabout and sounded like she was having a ball. Now Callum and I and my daughter Nicky and her fella William normally head to just past Magheraboy chicane to see the riders scream downhill towards Metropole but on this occasion we headed for the Grandstand at the start/finish. I had been lucky enough to win paddock passes and grandstand tickets courtesy of Relentless and thought it would be rude not to use them. Forgot to mention earlier that I had already won to entry passes for the early round of Irish Superbikes at Kirkistown.The weather was awful all morning with torrential rain and strong winds. Not May in NI at all.

BBC coverage screen at NW200 start/finish

I cant even remember if we saw one race before the PSNI asked us and all those round us to leave our seats and evacuate the grandstand and paddock. This was apparently due to a telephoned bomb warning. I also heard that a bomb had been detonated in a bank in Londonderry city centre earlier in the morning. As I said in my welcome I do not intend in getting into polotics on this blog, but this was a sad moment. Thousands of visitors, many from the UK mainland and further afield were herded into a wet field instead of watching spectacular racing – and all for what.

Supporters, riders and teams evacuated due to bomb threat at NW 200

After I suppose what was a delay of about an hour we did get back to our seats – fortunately my cheese and pickle sarnies hadnt been blown up.

Carrickfergus rider Alastair Seeley won an exciting 600 Supersport race and looked to be in great form going into the superbike race. However after leading from Michael Dunlop after only one lap the race was red flagged due to an oil spill round Black Hill. We had clearly seen Ryan Farqhars machine blowing smoke on the big screen but he appeared to continue for a good bit before coming to a halt. What happened after that was a little embarrasing for stewards and race officials alike. We witnessed marshals with tiny sprayers attempting to remove oil from a wet surface half a mile long and right on the racing line. It was never going to work. Guy Martin popped back along the circuit to have a look at the spill and after what seemed an eternity the race was abandoned. Disaster. I am not one to critisise officials – they have a hectic job balancing safety of riders and fans against providing a spectacular days racing for the same fans and sponsors, however I hope they are better prepared next time. I spend a lot of my time looking after the runway surface at a local airport and sincerely hope we wouldnt close because of a spill like that. I have read that NW 2012 will race on two days and include at least a Supertwin class. Good news.


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