Tourism NI ‘unable to justify’ £800,000 funding for NW200 and Ulster Grand Prix

Tourism NI says it was unable to justify funding of £800,000 for the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix in 2022.

The amount was requested by the Revival Racing Club, headed by directors Mervyn Whyte – the former NW200 Event Director – ex-Irish road racing star Phillip McCallen and Robin Titterington.

However, Tourism NI said the funding was more than six times the amount granted to the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix in 2019.

The money had been signed off by the Department of Finance and Department for the Economy, but Tourism NI said it could not support the package ‘on financial and legal grounds’.

Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) leads Peter Hickman (Smiths BMW) at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2019.

This year’s Ulster Grand Prix, due to have taken place from August 16-20, has now been cancelled.

A statement issued on Sunday night by Tourism NI said: “Tourism NI has received a request from Revival Racing Ltd seeking funding of £800,000 to stage the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix in 2022. This is over six times the funding provided by Tourism NI to stage the events in 2019.

“The Department for the Economy and Department of Finance provided Tourism NI with the necessary approvals in principle to pay out the sum of money requested if Tourism NI was in a position to do so.

“The funding request has now been considered by Tourism NI’s board and it concluded that it could not justify the level of funding requested both on financial and legal grounds.

“Like all public bodies, Tourism NI is operating in a highly constrained budget environment and is considering requests for support for a range of events across Northern Ireland in 2022.

“Tourism NI has provided Revival Racing with an indicative offer as to what it could expect to receive and what we believe would be sufficient to allow both the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix to progress this year.

“We are disappointed to hear that Revival Racing has decided not to proceed with the Ulster Grand Prix this year.”

The Revival Racing Club moved to take over the reins at the Ulster Grand Prix after the Dundrod and District Motorcycle Club ran into financial problems, accumulating debts in the region of £300,000.

A number of leading riders were left out of pocket after the 2019 event and last year the Dundrod Club entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with its creditors, enabling a portion of the debts owed to be paid back over a fixed period of time.