May 12-18, Northern Ireland
First hosted 90 years ago, the International North West 200 is one of the most spectacular motorcycle racing events in the world. The 8.9-mile circuit, a triangle with its corners located at Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine, has riders tearing down the stunning Causeway Coast reaching speeds of more than 200mph.
And this isn’t a time trial, for those new to the NW 200… this is a full-blown race with more than 100 riders over four classes. This is one of the world’s fastest road races.
Of course, things get dangerous too, with three riders – Tom Herron, Brian Hamilton and Frank Kennedy – losing their lives 40 years ago in 1979. That race on the triangle is known as the darkest day in its history.
There are road-based 650cc Supertwins; modified Supersport bikes with engines up to 675cc; 1000cc Superstock bikes; and the top-tier Superbikes with engines up to 1200cc in capacity. Bruce Anstey holds the current speed record, having clocked 209.8mph in 2016 on a Superbike.
Big-name drivers like Joey and Robert Dunlop, John McGuinness, Carl Fogarty and Phillip McCallen have all competed in the past.
The 90th anniversary will be celebrated with classic displays of motorcycles, while past winners will make appearances – as will a number of special guests. More announcements will be made closer to the event’s mid-May date.
With three days of action including practice on the Tuesday and Thursday before races on Thursday evening and throughout the day on Saturday, 100,000 spectators show up over the week, making it the largest sporting event in Northern Ireland and one of the largest in the British Isles.
Saturday Grandstand tickets start from £30 (excluding booking fees) with racing taking place from 9.15am – 7pm.
For more information, plus a schedule, visit www.northwest200.org
HOW TO GET THERE Many airlines fly to Belfast Airport or George Best Belfast City Airport, or you can take a Stena Line ferry to Larne, which is an hour away from the circuit.
ALSO GOING ON The race week is a festival. Vintage and classic car and bike runs will be held, with chances to meet the riders, walk the paddock, catch live music and enjoy fireworks.
DON’T MISS See the Giant’s Causeway and ride or drive part of the coastal route. Also visit the Joey and Robert Dunlop Memorial Garden.
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