North West 200 receives funding boost to improve safety measures

Ryan Farquhar collided with Dan Cooper during one of the Supertwin races at this year's North West 200
Ryan Farquhar was seriously injured in a crash at this year's North West 200

The North West 200 road race is to receive funding of £124,000 from the Northern Ireland Executive towards improving safety measures at the event.

Communities Minister Paul Givan said the money will enable the promoting Coleraine Club "to purchase equipment to help improve the safety of the course for competitors and spectators".

Malachi Mitchell-Thomas was killed in a crash at the event in May of this year.

He was the fifth rider to lose his life in nine years at the north coast race.

Robert Dunlop, Mark Young, Mark Buckley and Simon Andrews have also died due to racing incidents on the nine-mile course over the past decade.

A number of other serious accidents have taken place, including an incident involving several riders and a spectator at the Mill Road roundabout section of the course in 2015, and a collision between Ryan Farquhar and Dan Cooper at Black Hill this year.

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The money will be used to purchase more safety bales, kerb protectors and pole protectors, as well as introducing a new warning light system and make improvements to the paddock area.

"It is important that we do what we can to make the races a safe and memorable experience for everyone and this funding will contribute to that," said Givan.

"Much of the equipment being purchased will be available to other event organisers so this is not just an investment that will benefit the North West 200.

"Road racing is a fantastic sport which attracts the top international riders to Northern Ireland. It also makes a significant contribution to tourism and to marketing Northern Ireland as a venue to come to for major international sporting events.

"This is the first of a number of safety investment announcements I will be making in the coming weeks for our local races."

Race Director Mervyn Whyte said the financial injection will help his team "make significant improvements to the Triangle course".