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Relentless International North West 200 Revs up for 'Giant' 2012


John McGuinness, Conor Cummins & Alastair Seeley at the Giant's Causeway.

The First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Minister for Tourism, Arlene Foster, joined some of the UK and Northern Ireland’s top names in road racing for the launch of the 2012 Relentless International North West 200. Organisers of the famous road race, which will take place on Saturday 19th May, announced a giant-themed Race Week, in line with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s ‘giant’ year for international events.

North West 200 champions John McGuinness, Conor Cummins, Ian Hutchinson, Steve Mercer, Denver Robb, Kirk Jamieson and Alastair Seeley were just some of the riders in attendance at the launch as Technical Director Mervyn Whyte MBE revealed new practice and race formats and announced that Relentless energy drink is once again overall title sponsor of the event.

The Tourism Minister underlined the importance of the Relentless International North West 200 and the contribution it made to tourism in Northern Ireland. “With each passing year the NW200 has grown in stature and standing, becoming world renowned as a must-see event in the sporting calendar.  The introduction of improved spectator facilities, an additional day’s racing and a wider range of activities during the festival week not only raises the bar for this event but contributes to a better and more memorable experience for visitors.

Pictured at the launch of the 2012 Relentless International North West 200 is Technical Director Mervyn Whyte MBE with riders John McGuinness, Alastair Seeley, Conor Cummins, John Burrows, Denver Robb, Steve Mercer, Kirk Jamieson, Brian McCormack, Jeremy McWilliams and Ian Hutchinson..

 “With so many outstanding celebrations and commemorations, this is a pivotal year for tourism in Northern Ireland and the NW200 will contribute to an amazing portfolio of events on offer. Key tourism events, such as the NW200, have been recognised as having an important role to play in contributing to the economy with the ability to deliver a competitive advantage for Northern Ireland.

“Events like the NW200 simply would not happen without the commitment and dedication of the organisers, backroom staff and sponsors. They are often unsung heroes and I would like to pay tribute to all involved for the time and effort they have put in over the years to make the tournament what it is today.”

Mervyn Whyte MBE, Technical Director of the Relentless International North West 200 said he was looking forward to an enhanced programme for 2012: “Suffice to say 2011 was a difficult and frustrating year for organisers, sponsors, riders and spectators alike, with a combination of bad weather, a security alert, incidents and cancelled races. However, we are looking forward to 2012’s North West 200 and are doing everything in our power to make it exceptional for all the right reasons. This is an exciting year for Northern Ireland’s tourism and the North West 200 can join the line-up of international tourist events taking place this year.”

Relentless support

Pictured at the launch of this year’s Relentless International North West 200 are from left: Cllr William King, Deputy Mayor of Coleraine, First Minister, Peter Robinson, Tourism Minister, Arlene Foster, Mervyn Whyte (NW200 Technical Director) and Maire Campbell from Relentless Energy Drink.

Relentless Energy Drink will headline this year’s event. Speaking at the launch on behalf of Relentless Energy Drink, Maire Campbell said: Relentless Energy Drink is relentless in its passion to support the NW200 and we are proud to be title sponsor and partner of Ireland’s most prestigious road racing competition for the third consecutive year. The North West 200 attracts the highest calibre of sporting personalities, increases tourism and boosts the local economy, increasing Northern Ireland’s international profile and exposure. On behalf of the Relentless brand we would like to wish the organisers every best wish for an outstanding event in 2012 and we hope that the fans have a fantastic time at the most exhilarating event of the year”.

Mervyn Whyte thanked Relentless for their support and said, “Without the financial backing of Relentless, the NITB, Coleraine Borough Council, BBC and our other sponsors, it would be impossible to run the North West 200. We are delighted that Relentless Energy Drink is our title sponsor and the brand effectively reflects the high-energy, high-speed ethos of the North West 200. We are grateful to Maire Campbell and her team for their ongoing support.”

Enhanced visitor experience

Organisers highlighted an expanded Race Week programme in May which is designed to attract additional spectators and enhance visitor experience. Following a review last year, Race Week practices will now take place during the day, with roads closing at 9.30am and reopening at 2.30pm on Tuesday 15th and Thursday 17th May. Roads will close again on Thursday (17th) evening from 5.30pm – 9pm to accommodate the Superstock and newly introduced Supertwin races.

The new racing portfolio is also in place for rider safety as it will allow additional practice time prior to racing.

Saturday 19th May will have the five race programme: two Superbike races, two Supersport races and the Superstock race. All races will be over six laps except the Supertwin race, which will be four laps. The newly introduced Supertwin race will take place on Thursday 17th May – riders in that race include seasoned racer and newcomer to the North West 200, Jeremy McWilliams, Ryan Farquhar and other competitors to be announced over the coming weeks. .

The Superstock race positions on Thursday and Saturday will be decided on a points system. First place will be awarded 25 points; second place, 20 points; third place,16 points; down to 15th place at 1 point. Prize money will be paid out on the overall points. Organisers also plan to pay prize money for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in both races.

Rider liaison

One of the North West 200’s most familiar faces, Steve Plater, will be helping this year as a rider liaison officer along with Phillip McCallen. Plater, who has a total of 8 wins at the North West 200, said he was looking forward to helping newcomers: “The North West 200 is a special event for me and I’m very happy to take on the role of rider liaison officer and hopefully help newcomers get as much out of the fabulous North West 200 circuit as I have. Safety is such an important focus of the North West 200 and I’m pleased to be playing a role in making the event as safe as possible.”

Phillip McCallen has been rider liaison officer for a number of years, helping newcomers at the International North West 200.

Hospitality and Grandstand seating

Hospitality will be available on Race Day, with a wide variety of events planned throughout Race Week including the Miss North West 200 competition and Question of Sport. Top bands will perform throughout the week, with the Illegals set to perform on Wednesday 16th May. Hospitality costs will be announced in February.

5,000 grandstand seats are now on sale and one key change is that seats purchased will be for Race Week, rather than just Race Day. Costs for grandstand seating and various race packages will remain the same as last year. North West 200 grandstands will again be managed by Dublin company EventServ and full details are available from NW200 website

2012 Race programme

Profile Publishing and Design has been appointed to manage the Race Programme for 2012. The Belfast-based company, established in 2001, works in the sporting arena in Northern Ireland. It currently publishes race programmes for Irish Football Association and the Northern Ireland Milk Cup tournament as well as for the Sunflower Trophy Races and Ulster Grand Prix.

Jason Andrews, director at Profile Publishing said: “Profile are delighted to come onboard as the official publishing and print partner for North West 200. We will be producing various pieces of promotional and associated literature as well as the official event programme which thousands of fans will purchase and keep as a treasured souvenir. We’re honoured to be tasked with producing such an essential component and revenue generator for this prestigious and renowned event.
We look forward to working alongside the North West 200 organising team.”

A ‘Giant’ year for tourism

The North West 200 is part of Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s landmark year for tourism with the opening of the Titanic Signature Project in April – the world’s largest Titanic Visitor Experience – as well as hosting the Irish Open at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in June.

Media partner

BBC Northern Ireland is the official media partner of the North West 200 and will support the event with extensive online, radio and television coverage.

Shane Glynn, Executive Producer, BBC N.I. Sport, said: “We look forward once again to working with Mervyn and his team to bring fans the most comprehensive coverage of the North West 200. With the new day time practice arrangements and Thursday night racing, it’ll be a new set of challenges, but as always we can’t wait for the week and will reveal our coverage plans in due course.”

Extending his thanks to BBC Northern Ireland, Mervyn Whyte MBE said: “Each year BBC Northern Ireland’s coverage is nothing short of exceptional and this can be attributed to the hard work, talent and passion that Shane Glynn and his team put into the North West 200. We very much appreciate all their efforts and look forward to working with them again in 2012.”

Coleraine Borough Council

Deputy Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor William King, speaking to guests at the launch stated: “Coleraine Borough Council is delighted to be the Coleraine & District Motor Club’s associate partner again for this year’s North West 200 motorcycle races. Council is thrilled to support this annual event which attracts thousands of visitors and tourists to our beautiful North Coast. Hopefully they will enjoy everything that the Borough of Coleraine has to offer including our sandy beaches, good restaurants, and a wealth of other activities and entertainment.

“I congratulate the NW200 team for developing the exciting new racing programme.   They have reviewed the previous year’s event and produced an innovative new format that will really appeal to spectators.   I also thank Coleraine Borough Council staff for developing the Race Week programme that perfectly compliments the NW200 by providing entertainment in Portrush and Portstewart.”

Deputy Mayor King continued, “The Borough of Coleraine hosts some of the country’s top events, including the International Airshow.  In addition, this year in June we will be hosting the Olympic Torch and Olympic Torch Concert, as well as the Irish Open Golf Tournament.   NW200 is very much in keeping with this year’s tourist theme of ‘Giants’.  The NW200 riders are ‘Giants’ of the roads and the NW200 showcases their courage and sporting excellence. It is also important to recognise the volunteers because without their commitment such events would not happen; I commend everyone involved. The clock is already ticking down to Race Week in May so I encourage everyone to come and enjoy the NW200; it is a great spectacle and offers something for everyone.”

Fleet Financial

Fleet Financial will once again be sponsoring the North West 200 by providing course cars and vans as well providing financial assistance. Jim Humphries, Sales Manager of Fleet Financial, said: “We have been sponsoring the North West 200 for 9 years and are delighted to be involved again this year. It is a unique event which Fleet Financial has been proud to support. We are looking forward to world-class road racing in May.”

M.C.U.I. (Ulster Centre)

Motorcycle Union of Ireland President Chris Blair wished organisers well for the 2012 Relentless International North West 200: “The North West 200 is a flagship event not just in the world of motorsport but also in Northern Ireland. It is an event which seems to increase its offering each year and we warmly applaud the organisers for their hard work. On behalf of M.C.U.I, I wish organisers, riders and spectators a safe and very enjoyable Race Week.”

North West 200 Supporters’ Club

In 2011, the North West 200 Supporters’ Club, led by Laurits Mackness and Ina McColm, raised £20,000 and is hoping to match that figure for 2012. Laurits said: “It is such a worthwhile event to support and we’re hoping to see many new members in 2012 to help us reach our target.” Mervyn Whyte thanks Laurits and Ina for their unstinting commitment and support over the years.

Alpha Group Newspapers Regional Partnership

Mervyn Whyte also outlined a new regional newspaper partnership with locally owned Alpha Newspaper Group which manages 16 titles in Northern Ireland and two in Southern Ireland. Alpha Newspaper Group Managing Director Jonathan Taylor said: “We’re delighted to work more closely with International North West 200 organisers and aim to develop a support package to help further raise the profile of this fabulous sporting and tourism event in regional towns and villages.”    

Charity partner

Action Medical Research is the charity partner for the 2012 Relentless International North West 200. The charity funds vital medical research to help sick babies and children and has already planned a number of events for Race Week including a sponsored ‘Walk, Run Cycle’ around the 8.9 mile course.

Monies raised during Race Week will be used to support three key research projects funded by Action Medical Research in Northern Ireland which are based at Queen’s University and the Royal Victoria Hospital. The charity is currently supporting the development of ultrasound and computing techniques to analyse foetal movement and so help prevent stillbirth as well as two projects investigating novel treatments for retinopathy of prematurity; a disease that can cause childhood blindness.

Fundraising manager Sarah Matzen said she was looking forward to this unique fundraising opportunity: “2012 marks Action Medical Research’s 60th anniversary and we are delighted to be the charity partner of such a prestigious and popular sporting event and important year for our charity. We are currently planning events for Race Week and look forward to raising money which will fund vital research.”


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