A Road Races (Amendment) Bill has been passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The Bill will introduce flexibility to help promoters of road races to reschedule races where they would otherwise have to be cancelled due to bad weather. From next year, race promoters will be able to use up to two contingency days in relation to their race dates. A contingency day must be one of the two days immediately before or after a race or practice date.
Transport Minister Danny Kennedy introduced the Bill following the wash-out of this year’s North West 200 motor cycle races. The Minister secured accelerated passage for the Bill through the Assembly to ensure that the new arrangements would be in place for the 2014 racing season.
He said: “I would like to thank the Members of the Assembly for the interest they have taken in this important Bill. Every year many thousands of people attend car and motor cycle road racing events across Northern Ireland. Motor sport significantly benefits our economy particularly in terms of tourism and support for local businesses.
“I believe this Bill will add much to the rich and proud motor racing heritage enjoyed in Northern Ireland and it will help to protect our flagship road racing events in the future.”
Alan Drysdale, Chair of the 2&4 Wheel Motorsport Steering Group Ltd., which took the lead in seeking the changes with the Department for Regional Development, on behalf of NI motorsport, said: “The approval of the Bill by the Assembly clearly demonstrates the willingness by the Minister, his officials and the Assembly to find a way to introduce much needed flexibility within the Road Closure legislation to try and avoid a recurrence of the abandonment of events in circumstances such as the adverse weather conditions at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2008, the North West 200 in 2011 and both the North West 200 and the Dundrod 150 earlier this year.
“2&4 will now work with the Road Race Promoters to assist them develop proposals that fully satisfy the Department’s requirements in relation to the implementation of a contingency day, particularly, when the contingency day may be a Sunday.”